March 31, 2014

MADHYA PRADESH & LOK SABHA 2014


WILL MP HELP MODI BE THE NEXT PM



Considering its minuscule performance in South and the East, the BJP has to perform exceedingly well in the Hindi heartland for its 'Mission 272' to succeed. The saffron outfit's superlative performance in the state elections held in the later half of 2013 has further strengthened the already strong 'Modi wave'. One of the key states for the party is that of Madhya Pradesh. Having finished with nearly three fourths of the total seats, the saffronists are upbeat (Link). The incumbent CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan is extremely popular amongst the masses. Once seen as a potential PM nominee from the party, Chauhan has led the party to an unprecedented straight third term. The Congress slipped further, dropping over 10 seats to end with a disappointing tally of 58. You can see why the BJP is expected to paint the state orange. Of course, it is easier said than done. Remember, the party won the state elections in 2008 too by a massive margin. However, in the Lok Sabha polls held in the following summer, the Congress made a comeback of sorts, winning as many as 12 of the 29 parliamentary seats.

ISSUES

(1) The performance of the Chauhan regime: A relatively unknown face in state politics when he ascended the throne nearly nine years ago, CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan's regime has seen the implementation of several schemes that have helped in the development of the state. Under him, the road network has improved substantially. While the state generates more power now, the work on the linking of rivers has already started. Besides, populist schemes like providing TV sets and rice at Rs. 2 per kilogram have been huge hits. At the same time, welfare schemes including the Ladli Lakshmi Scheme, the Kanyadhan Yojna and the Janani Suraksha Yojna, all aimed at benefiting the women have been appreciated by the masses. While he has proved his administrative skills, another plus point for him is that he is seen as a moderate face by the minorities too.

(2) The failure of the Manmohan regime: While the Chauhan regime may have won a landslide victory in 2013 on the agenda of development, no such thing can be said about the UPA in its second innings. Besides, miserably failing to control price rise, several high ranking ministers in the Union Cabinet have been accused of being involved in multi-crore corruption scams. The anti-incumbency sentiment is strong. Thus while the BJP was able to retain power in Bhopal in spite of being in power for a decade by banking on the report card of their CM, it will be extremely difficult job for the Congress to replicate this in New Delhi.

(3) Modi vs Rahul: Madhya Pradesh is one of those states which sees a direct contest between the two national parties - BJP and the Congress. As such, it will be one state where the Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi battle may have some impact on the way in which people vote. Both the Gujarat CM and the INC Vice-President campaigned heavily in the state on the eve of the assembly elections. Although the Opinion Polls may give Modi the upper hand, you cannot right the Gandhis off. Remember 2004?

CONTENDERS

(1) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): Though he may have lost out on the race to become the party's PM nominee to Narendra Modi, incumbent CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan remains the most popular political figure in the state, leading others by a massive margin. Winning a large state like Madhya Pradesh, that too, three times in a row is no mean task. The saffron camp is heavily relying on their CM's image as a pro-development and secular leader to get them the votes. In many parts of the state, Chauhan dominates the party's posters and advertisements, showing the kind of influence that he has on the cadre. There was some talk that party patriarch L K Advani was keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Bhopal. However, that did not materialize due to various reasons. Meanwhile, amongst the party's nominees from here are senior leader Sushma Swaraj (Vidisha), Yashodhara Raje Scindia (Gwalior) and state party president Narendra Singh Tomar (Morena).

(2) Congress: As if the loss in the assembly polls was not enough, the grand old party was humiliated when its official nominee from Bhind, former IAS officer Bhagirath Prasad crossed over to the saffron camp. The INC needs to draw inspiration from its performance in 2009 to gear up. However, one has to realize that on the eve of last General Elections, the UPA government was on a much stronger wicket. This time around though, the anti-incumbency against the Central regime is very strong all thanks to several corruption scams that have rocked the Singh government and its inability to resurrect the economy. The party has renominated two of its top Union Ministers - Kamal Nath (Chhindwara) and Jyothiraditya Scindia (Guna). Meanwhile, former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh's brother Laxman Singh will face Sushma from Vidisha.

Others: The Aam Admi Party (AAP) will be making its debut here in 2014. It has given tickets to several leaders of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), former police officers social activists. The Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) which won a single seat in 2009 will be keen to retain Rewa. Other smaller contenders include the Gondwana Ganatantra Party (GPP), the Smamajwadi Party (SP), the JD(U) and the Left Front.

PAST PERFORMANCES

In 2003, the BJP under Hindutva icon Uma Bharati registered a famous win as they beat the Congress under Digvijay Singh. In the Lok Sabha 2004, when the nation voted the UPA to power, the state still remained loyal to the NDA. The following year though, Bharati was replaced, first by Babulal Gaur and then by her bete noire Shivraj Singh Chauhan. The incumbent CM has never looked back after that. Although, the saffron camp dropped nearly 30 seats in 2008 state polls, it still got a simple majority. The 2009 General Elections saw the INC make a come back of sorts as it managed to restrict the BJP to 16. Finally, Chauhan won a successive third term for his party in 2013.

Political Party
2013 SE2009 LE2008 SE2004 LE2003 SE
1
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
165
16
143
25
173
2
Congress (INC)
58
12
71
4
38
3
Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP)
4
1
7
-
2
4
Others
3
-
9
-
17

MY PREDICTIONS

I expect the 2014 polls in Madhya Pradesh to be an action replay of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress in the state is weak; to add to the woes is the strong anti-incumbency against the UPA regime. The INC will struggle to enter two digits. Meanwhile, the saffron camp will put on a brilliant show.

Political Party
Expected Seats
1
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
21-25
2
Congress
5-8
3
Others
0-1

WATCH OUT

(1) The Modi-Chauhan War: While the BJP may deny any rift between the Chief Ministers of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, there is certainly some friction between the two heavyweights. Advani's insistence on fighting the polls from Bhopal is seen by many as an effort on the part of the patriarch to endorse Chauha over Modi. As such, if the outfit wins 20 or more seats from the state, Chauhan will certainly yield a lot of influence in the Modi regime in the Centre and may use it to get a better package for his state.

For more posts in this series:
(1) Telangana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Tripura & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Jharkhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Nagaland & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Delhi & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(21) Uttarakhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(22) Himachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(23) Gujarat & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(24) Punjab & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(25) Bengal & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(26) Odisha & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(27) Tamil Nadu & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(28) Andhra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(29) Uttar Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)