Millennium Post

BJP victory, a mystery

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s third consecutive victory in the assembly polls in the state has added a unique chapter to the electoral history of Madhya Pradesh. Though Congress, after the formation of the present Madhya Pradesh in 1956, registered three consecutive victories (it won elections in 1957, 1962, and 1967) but every time, the government was led by a new chief minister.

After 1957 elections K N Katju became the chief minister. In the 1962 election Katju was defeated and B A Mandloi became the chief minister. The 1967 elections saw D P Mishra as the chief minister and in 1972; P C Sethi was installed as the chief minister. But the 2013 election was unique because besides getting majority thrice in a row, the same person will be heading the government for the third consecutive term.

Shivraj Singh Chauhan replaced Babulal Gaur as the chief minister in 2005. After that, the BJP, which had captured power in the state in 2003 under the leadership of Uma Bharati, fought 2008 elections under the leadership of Chauhan and emerged victorious. Now, again in 2013, he gifted power to BJP for the third consecutive term. He himself will take oath for the third time. It is a distinction which was not earned by any politician in the history of Madhya Pradesh.

He not only led BJP to victory in 2013 but the party performed better than in 2008. In 2008 the BJP won in 143 constituencies while this time the figure was 165. The BJP increased its strength while the Congress’ tally slipped from 71 to 58. The Congress lost ground in all regions of the state, barring Vindhya Pradesh.

Everybody gives credit for this massive victory to Shivraj Singh Chauhan. There is no doubt that there was anti-incumbency factor and it did work against 45 sitting BJP legislators, including 10 ministers, who lost their seats. The BJP took a wise decision when it denied tickets to 48 MLAs, including three ministers. Had these sitting MLAs been in the field, most of them would have lost the elections. By replacing them, the BJP managed to retain 31 of these 48 seats.

But the anti-incumbency factor did not affect the fate of the party largely because of the popularity of Shivraj Chauhan. People are wondering as to how the BJP could succeed in retaining power despite numerous scams. Perhaps for the first time an IAS couple was found guilty of amassing wealth to the tune of Rs 300 crore. The nature of the scams was such that those have nearly destroyed institutions which were built with the labour of many years. The MP Professional Examinations Board, which was conducting tests for admission to medical, engineering and pharmacy colleges as also for the selection of police and other government staff was turned into cesspool of corruption. Admissions were secured and jobs obtained by paying bribes ranging from Rs 12 to Rs 75 lakh. More than a dozen employees and officers are in jail because of their involvement in corrupt practices. Despite all this the BJP won. In that sense, the BJP victory is a mystery. It may require serious probe to determine the real causes of the BJP sweep.

Those who won include several such persons who made headlines because of their involvement in corrupt practices. Among them is Ramesh Mendola of Indore, who won with a whopping margin of 92,000 votes from Indore constituency. Ramesh Mendola was arrested for his involvement in land deals. It is said that he spends about Rs 2 crore every year on his constituency. In is alleged that his rival congress candidate did not contest with the seriousness which is required in elections.

There are many Mendolas who have won the elections. Among the known factors which brought about BJP victory is the popularity of Shivraj Singh Chauhan. His populist programmes like ‘Ladli Laxmi’ (compulsory insurance of girl child) ‘Kanya Dan’ (giving financial help to the poor families for performing marriages of their daughters) and arranging pilgrimage of senior citizens at the government cost made him immensely popular. His massive mass contact programmes and his public meetings and rallies in almost every constituency paid rich dividends. He undertook a ‘Janashirvad Yatra’ throughout the State.  All these activities and programmes made him popular among the poor and deprived.

As for the performance of the Congress, it was dismal and totally disappointing. Even the decision to make young and dynamic Jyotiraditya Scindia the chief of the Congress campaign committee could not yield expected results. This is proved by the poor performance of the Congress in the areas which are traditionally considered Scindia’s strongholds. Even in Gwalior city, which is his permanent residence, all the four seats were won by the BJP.  Besides the rural constituencies, which were swept by the BJP, the Congress could manage to win only two seats in the four major towns of the state. The Congress drew blank in Indore and Gwalior and could win only one seat each in Bhopal and Jabalpur.

The prominent Congress leaders who lost the election include Suresh Pachauri former Central Minister and former chief of MP Congress.  The most outstanding victory was that of Babulal Gaur, former chief minister and senior-most member of the Chauhan Ministry. Babulal Gaur won from the same seat for the tenth time in succession, perhaps making a record in the electoral history of the country. Gaur, at the age of 89, won the seat with a massive margin of more than 70,000 votes. Some observers feel that Modi’s electioneering also helped increase the BJP tally. The failures of the central government, including frequent increase in diesel and petrol price, new policy on LPG cooking gas and its image as weak and indecisive government also contributed to the rout of
the Congress.

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