MP bypolls: The results will change political equations in BJP and Congress

The Congress’ convincing victory in both the seats of Mungaoli and Kolaras is a warning for the BJP that has ruled Madhya Pradesh for three successive terms

opinion Updated: Mar 01, 2018 17:00 IST
Madhya Pradesh,BJP,Congress
Congress workers celebrate the party's victory in Kolaras and Mungaoli assembly by-elections at the party's state headquarters, Bhopal, February 28(PTI)

Although inconsequential in terms of the strength inside the assembly, the results of the two by-elections in Madhya Pradesh might alter political equations within both the BJP and Congress.

The elections were the last opportunity for a show of strength for the two parties before they take each other on later this year for the assembly elections. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Cabinet colleagues were camping in the constituencies of Mungaoli and Kolaras almost round the clock to ensure a BJP win.

The Congress’ convincing victory in both the seats is a warning for the BJP that has ruled the state for three successive terms.

Within the Congress, it should bring cheers for young party MP Jyotiraditya Scindia in the state where many Congress veterans had been jostling for space to project themselves as an alternative to Chauhan.

In a wider context, the loss in Madhya Pradesh is bound to send alarm bells in the BJP, following the loss of three seats in the recent by-elections in Rajasthan. Earlier, through it managed to retain power in Gujarat, it was confined to less that 100 seats against its self-proclaimed target of 150-plus due to unexpected performance of Congress.

The BJP rules the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and has actually been in power in MP and Chhattisgarh since 2003. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it performed exceptionally well in the Hindi heartland, winning 73 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, all the seats on offer in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi, and 27 of 29 in Madhya Pradesh.

The loss in Madhya Pradesh cannot be dismissed as a flash in the pan for the Congress as the BJP leaders would like us to believe. The Congress had given a clear indication of its increasing support base in the state outperforming the BJP in the elections to the 19 civic bodies held a few months ago wresting several seats held by the latter. The Congress had also won the bypolls for the Chitrakoot and Ater seats in the assembly earlier.

The changing political scenario in the three major BJP-ruled states, where assembly elections are due this year, could have an ominous portent for the BJP’s future politics.

Apart from robbing the party of numbers, if the present trends are replicated in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, they could also foil the party’s ambitions of a Congress-Mukht Bharat.

IExcept in the Hindi heartland states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where non-Congress and non-BJP forces have a tangible presence, there are 193 Lok Sabha seats where the Congress and BJP are in a direct contest. Currently, the BJP holds most of the seats, but even a small loss could change political fortunes. The Congress’ successful electoral forays in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are good news for Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Apart from boosting the morale of the party’s rank and file, it is an endorsement of the next generation leadership that he is trying to bring in.

In Madhya Pradesh, the victory was made possible by Jyotiraditya Scindia and in Rajasthan by Sachin Pilot — both young leaders in Rahul Gandhi’s team.

Yogesh Vajpeyi is a senior journalist and media consultant

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 14:13 IST