Lok Sabha elections 2019 polling phase 4: High stakes for Congress, BJP in Madhya Pradesh swing seats
Twenty-nine parliamentary constituencies (PC) of Madhya Pradesh will go to polls in four phases beginning today. In the 2014 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 27 of these with a vote share of 54%. The Congress won just two seats, down from 12 in 2009 and its lowest in three decades. In terms of vote share, the party was 19 percentage points behind the BJP. The Congress saw a revival in the December 2018 assembly elections by polling nearly as many votes as the BJP and forming the state government after 15 years. Extrapolation of these results at the PC level gives Congress a lead in 12 PCs.
In the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, the Congress faces the challenge of retaining its support in select pockets of the state that have historically not been its strongholds but where it performed better in 2018. The election will also test the Congress party’s ability to make dent in the BJP’s support in other regions of the state where the later has historically been a dominant force.
Eleven of the 29 PCs have remained with the BJP since 2008. This includes the Lok Sabha elections of 2009 and 2014 and the state assembly elections of 2008, 2013 and 2018. In case of assembly elections, results have been extrapolated at the PC level. A similar comparison with elections held before 2008 is not possible as the 2008 delimitation changed earlier constituency boundaries.
Even as the BJP has historically been stronger in these 11 PCs, it has become vulnerable there over time. In the 2018 state elections, the BJP’s victory margin in these 11 PCs was lower than its average victory margin there in the previous four elections.
Other than these 11 PCs, there are seven which the BJP has lost only once in the five elections held since 2008. It lost two of them to the Congress in the 2018 assembly elections.
In case of the Congress, there is no such PC where it had a lead in all five elections held since 2008. However, there are two PCs where it had a lead in four of these five elections, Guna and Dhar.
The Congress party has the highest stake in another nine PCs which have historically been flipping between the two parties. The Congress had a lead in all these PCs in the December 2018 elections, compared to just one in 2014. In terms of vote share in these nine PCs, the Congress had a lead over the BJP by a median average of eight percentage points.