Counting of votes begins in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan
The four states send 82 representatives to the Lok Sabha and the election results are expected to impact seat-sharing negotiations within the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance
The counting for around 119 million votes polled for 639 assembly seats across Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana , and Rajasthan began on Sunday morning after polling described as a virtual semi-final for the 2024 national elections concluded on November 30. Postal ballots were being counted first and the process was being videographed under heavy security.
The four states send 82 representatives to the Lok Sabha and the election results are expected to impact seat-sharing negotiations within the Opposition’s Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance. The polls in three of the states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh—featured bipolar contests between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
The BJP has ruled Madhya Pradesh, the largest of the states to go to the polls, for 18 of the last 20 years. It was in a head-to-head battle with the Congress in the state as the Congress hoped to cash in on anti-incumbency to return to power. A majority of exit polls predicted an intense contest between the BJP and the Congress. Two gave the edge to the Congress and one to the BJP. IndiaToday-AxisMyIndia and Today’s Chanakya-News 24 surveys predicted a sweep for the BJP.
The BJP fielded ministers and parliamentarians in addition to focussing on its welfare outreach. The Congress focussed on anti-incumbency and corruption allegations against Chouhan.
Rajasthan usually votes out the incumbent every five years. Congress chief minister Ashok Gehlot expected to put up a tough battle on the back of welfare and cash transfer schemes. A majority of exit polls predicted that the BJP was coming back to power. But IndiaToday-AxisMyIndia and Today’s Chanakya-News 24 both predicted that Congress was marginally ahead.
The contest appeared more evenly poised in Chhattisgarh, where the Congress swept the polls in 2018. Five exit polls predicted a close fight with the Congress ahead. Three others forecast that chief minister Bhupesh Baghel was comfortably set for a second straight term. The Congress campaigned on its paddy procurement scheme and welfare programmes.
Every exit poll predicted that the Congress, which was in power at the Centre when Telangana was created in 2014, was set to replace the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in the only southern state that went to the polls in this round. BRS has ruled the state since its inception. Four exit polls said the Congress would get a simple majority of its own. Others predicted that it would likely emerge as the single-largest party.
The Congress was decimated in the 2018 polls and ended up around 20 percentage points in vote share behind the BRS. It ran the 2023 campaign under its state unit chief Revanth Reddy who targeted the BRS over corruption and anti-incumbency. Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao focussed on his welfare outreach and schemes.
Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar flew to Hyderabad on Saturday apparently to keep the Congress flock together. He alleged that the BRS was attempting to make contact with their lawmakers.