Will the Congress succeed in forming the next government in Madhya Pradesh?

Exit Poll for Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections-2018

Exit Poll for Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections-2018

Five out of eight Exit Polls point to the Congress holding a slight advantage over the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and could well end up forming the next government. Were that to happen, it would mark a big upset for the BJP where Shivraj Singh Chouhan held sway for three consecutive terms and was expected to roll into a fourth.

On November 28, the people of Madhya Pradesh voted to elect 230 representatives to the state Assembly. The results will be announced on December 11, 2018.

It’s clear, unlike in 2013, the BJP faces a tough fight in the 2018 elections from a resurgent Congress. The exit polls are pointing to a close contest, similar to the one seen in Chhattisgarh, where either party could scrape through to the victory podium. It’s not a situation the BJP would like to find itself in. If it loses, it will be a setback for the party going into the 2019 General elections. If it manages a win, the margins will mean a weaker position in the Assembly through the next term. Expect the party to lose sleep till December 11 when the counting will begin to unfold the people’s choice.

Total Seats: 230
Majority: 116

The diverse outcomes of individual Exit Polls are:

Media BJP INC BSP Others
ABP CSDS 94 126 0 10
Republic TV – Cvoter 90-106 110-126 0 6-22
India Today Axis 102-120 104-122 1-3 3-8
India TV – CNX 122-130 86-92 4-8 8-10
Republic Jan Ki Baat 108-128 95-115 0 7
Times Now – CNX 126 89 6 9
News 24 – Pace 103 125 0 2
NewsX-Neta 106 112 4 8
Maps of India 111  111  8

In 2013, BJP won with a comfortable margin winning 165 seats with a 44.88% vote share, far ahead of the INC which managed to win just 58 seats with 36.38% vote share in its favour. The close contest this time points to a major erosion in popularity for both, the incumbent CM and the BJP.

So, what brought about this change in people’s perception of the ruling party in the state and why has BJP not been able to build upon the gains of 2013? The answer lies in several factors that seem to be on the voter’s mind.

Like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh is primarily an agrarian state with large sections of people depending on land to earn their livelihood. Poor monsoons and low agricultural incomes have led to several farmer suicides and consequent protests. The sentiment across the state has been negative towards the ruling party, a fact Shivraj Singh Chouhan has not been able to address successfully.

Contrary to the party line in the capital, the common man has been affected by demonetization. Rising prices and lack of jobs for the youth have also eroded the goodwill the CM garnered over three terms in office.

Going into 2019, the BJP should be worried. The Congress is still struggling to put together a united opposition, and the BJP has not been able to capitalize on that. Failure to win over people’s perception will certainly impact BJP’s chances in the 2019 General Elections, PM Modi’s popularity as a charismatic leader notwithstanding.

BJP has been vocal about the Congress not putting up a CM candidate and has tried to take advantage of three strong candidates within the Congress potentially competing for the CM’s post – Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Digvijay Singh. The BJP was hoping to gain from infighting within the Congress, but the exit polls seem to point towards a more cohesive party at the grassroots level otherwise the close outcome would not have been possible.

Another issue that may have negatively impacted the ruling party is the Vyapam controversy that may not have faded from people’s memory. The youth have been upset with the controversy, and the extended investigation without any clear outcomes has possibly gone against Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The Congress party seems to have sensed this early and has made significant gains in the run-up to the 2018 polls. Whether that will be enough to see it through will be known on December 11.

Regional parties and their satraps in other states will be following the poll outcome in MP, as they begin to lay out terms of political alignment going into 2019 general elections.

For the BJP, it will be a sign whether brand Modi retains its sheen or will there be a surprise waiting in 2019.

Exit Polls of the other states