Madhya Pradesh: Why the India Today exit poll results should bring cheer to the Congress camp
The grand old party is likely to get 104-122 seats, while the BJP, running close, is expected to get 102 to 120 seats.
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The electoral contest in Madhya Pradesh, which has been a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stronghold since 2003, seems to be going down to the wire with a neck-and-neck contest.
Madhya Pradesh exit polls show the contest will be a cliffhanger for the BJP and Congress. (Source: Reuters)
The India Today-Axis My India exit poll has projected a nail-biter contest in the state being governed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the past 15 years as chief minister.
According to the exit poll, the Congress is likely to get 104-122 seats, while the BJP, running close, is expected to get 102 to 120 seats.
The two great rivals are projected to get 41 and 40 per cent of the vote share, respectively.
In 2013, BJP got a vote share of 44.88 per cent and the Congress a vote share of 36.38 per cent.
The exit polls give the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 1-3 votes, while the others, including Samajwadi Party, Gondwana Ganatantra Party and Independents, are likely to garner 3-8 seats, according to the poll.
The polls, which give BSP a vote share of 4 per cent, predict a 15 per cent vote share for the others.
The sample size of the India Today-Axis My India exit poll is over 1,97,600, and Axis My India has a 90 per cent accuracy rate in 28 of 31 polls held over the last five years.
The Times Now-CNX Exit Poll, however, has projected a BJP win in the state with 126 seats. The Congress, according to the Times Now poll, is predicted to get 89 seats, while the BSP and others are expected to get 6 and nine seats each.
In 2013, the BJP had registered a victory on 165 seats, the Congress won 58, while the BSP and others got four and three seats, respectively.
What seems to have worked against the BJP is an anti-incumbency wave hitting it by virtue of the party being in power for over a decade and a half.
The reason why Congress could not capitalise with full thrust on the public disenchantment with the BJP regime could well be the infighting and failure to project a chief ministerial face that people of the state could have rallied behind.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan was facing powerful anti-incumbency in this Assembly election. (Source: India Today)
Chouhan, on his part, has been facing the ire of farmers, who have been demanding better prices for their produce. The 2017 firing in Mandsaur in which six farmers were killed had also added to the anger against Chouhan.
The youth in the state were also angry with the Shivraj Singh government over its failure to provide them jobs.
The government could create only 17,600 jobs every year on an average in the past 14 years of BJP rule in the state.
The youths in the state were also miffed with the government for raising the retirement age of state government employees from 60 to 62 years. The young protested this move, saying it will reduce employment opportunities for them.
We will have to wait till December 11 to know the final results.
But the exit poll results do spell trouble for the BJP, given how crucial Madhya Pradesh is from the point of view of the national elections to be held in 2019 because the state has 29 Lok Sabha seats.
For the Congress, the exit polls are definitely a reason to cheer as there is a rise in its vote share. This should provide Congress hope for 2019 after suffering back-to-back losses in state after state over the past four and a half years.
The BJP, on its part, must get into a huddle quickly and think about course correction.