The Madhya Pradesh election results — BJP-16, Congress-12, BSP-1 — do not reflect the strong undercurrent in favour of the Congress in the state. The party could have wrested at least six more seats from the BJP if candidate selection was more judicious and campaigning more focused.
The party had four MPs in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
The voter’s dramatic swing barely five months after the BJP romped home in the assembly elections in the state has baffled poll pundits.
Take for instance Bhopal and Indore, two of the strongest BJP citadels since the 1989 polls. The victory margin of former chief minister Kailash Joshi (80) in Bhopal was reduced from over 3 lakh votes in the last election to 65,000 this time.
Former Union minister Sumitra Mahajan (66) scraped through by 11,000 votes in the Indore seat, which she had won by around 2 lakh votes in 2004.
All other BJP veterans, who had been winning in more than five elections, lost to first-timer Congress rivals this time.
They include former Union minister Satnarayan Jatia (Ujjain), Nand Kumar Singh Chouhan (Khandwa), Laxminarayan Pandey (Mandsaur), BJP national general secretary Thawar Chand Gehlot (Dewas), former Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste (Mandla) and Laxman Singh (Rajgarh).
Of the 12 Congress winners, seven fought for the first time.
“Had we fielded more youthful faces, the Congress would have swept the election in MP,” a senior Congress leader said wistfully.
Congressmen are unanimous that Rahul Gandhi’s appeal among the youths worked wonders for the party.
“Soniaji and Rahulji’s tours were the most important factor in the Congress turnaround,” said state Congress chief Suresh Pachouri.
Along with the Congress’s youth factor, the BJP’s negative campaign harmed the party, particularly in the Malwa region where the Congress wrested four of the seven seats from the BJP while retaining Ratlam.
Led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, all BJP leaders kept blaming the Centre for the power crisis in the state.
This proved counterproductive. The voter expected the Chouhan government to deliver on the recent Assembly election promise of power, water and roads rather than blaming it all on the Centre.