Assembly elections 2018: Congress hoping to stop BJP’s fourth term in Madhya Pradesh
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are locked in a straight fight in Madhya Pradesh, where counting of votes for the assembly election will be held on Tuesday.
Both parties are in a neck and neck race in Madhya Pradesh, according to exit polls. The centrally located state had registered a turnout of around 75 per cent in the November 28 assembly polls.
The Madhya Pradesh assembly has 230 seats and the majority mark for a party to win is 116. While the BJP contested all 230 seats, the Congress fought on 229, leaving one to its ally, the Loktantrik Janata Dal of Sharad Yadav.
Other parties in the fray are the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP), which partnered the Gondwana Gantantra Party after alliance talks with the Congress failed, and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The BSP has fielded 227 candidates in the state while SP and AAP have fielded 51 and 208 candidates respectively.
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The BJP has been in power in the state since 2003 and is looking to retain power under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has been chief minister since 2005.
Even though Chouhan, is by all standards a popular chief minister and has made tangible improvements in governance, the BJP is now facing triple anti-incumbency, and charges of ignoring the farmers’ distress and the growing unemployment.
For the Congress on the other hand, the stakes could never be higher as it hopes to come back to power in the state which was once its bastion.
Since independence, the state has always been a Congress state, except for three short stints — in the late 1960s, post Emergency and in the early 1990s. However, the last 15 years have been the longest that the party has been out of power in the state.
In this election, the Congress had focused its campaign in the state on agrarian failures of the Chouhan government and the economic mismanagement of the Centre. It is also a test of Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s reputation as a leader.
In the previous election in the state, held in 2013, the BJP had won 165 sets with the Congress winning 58 seats.