Madhya Pradesh election results: Job, agriculture and Ram mandir in Ayodhya, what will the state vote for?

Which issue weighs on the voters mind on November 28 is something we will know only on December 11.

 |  7-minute read |   10-12-2018
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Madhya Pradesh voted on Wednesday, November 28, to elect candidates for the 230-member Assembly. The state is being keenly watched as it will provide an important litmus test of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) popularity ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Of the five upcoming state elections, Madhya Pradesh, which has been under BJP rule since 2003, is the most important for national politics, contributing 29 seats to the Lok Sabha followed by Rajasthan (25), Telangana (17), Chhattisgarh (11) and Mizoram (1).  

mp_card_112618024408.jpg

While BJP faces anti-incumbency built over 15 years of Shivraj Singh Chouhan administration, the Congress is trying hard to find a footing in north India where the only state it now has power in is Punjab.

So what were the issues in the voters minds when 5,04,95,251 people of Madhya Pradesh voted on November 28.

Agriculture

On January 12, 1998, hordes of farmers gathered outside a police station in a town named Multai in Betul district to demand compensation for crops damaged in severe rain and hailstorms. A posse of about 100 policemen swooped on them, opened fire and 17 dropped dead. A couple of months later, Digvijaya Singh won the Assembly election despite the killings and Congress formed the government for a second time in a row.

In 2017, almost 19 years later, six farmers were killed while making similar demands from the Shivraj Singh government in Mandsaur district.

mandsaur-690_112618111838.jpgSix farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur in 2017. (Source: India Today)

Like many of India’s states, Madhya Pradesh’s economy still depends significantly on agriculture. The 2011 census showed agriculture employs nearly 70 per cent of the workforce in the state against 55 per cent at the national level while the 2015-16 agriculture census found more than 10 million farms across the state. In the past decade, this land and labour, combined with facilitative state government policy, has generated significant agriculture growth. In 2003, MP accounted for around 5 per cent of total agricultural output; by 2014, this share had increased to 8 per cent.

Known for its production of pulses, between 2002 and 2007, Madhya Pradesh accounted for around 9 per cent of India’s wheat production. A decade later, wheat production has nearly doubled, averaging 17 per cent of India’s production.

However, this farm growth has not resulted in prosperity for the farmers of the state.

More than 1,300 farmers committed suicide in 2016. The state registered a double-digit growth in farm.

Seventy-six per cent of all Madhya Pradesh farmers are small farmers relying on rural wages to supplement their incomes.

It will be interesting to see how farmers in the state vote on November 28.

Speaking at a recent election rally in Mandsaur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Farmers are suffering due to the wrong policies of the Congress governments... But they would not have... had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been the country’s first prime minister.” 

Reacting on Modi’s comment, Congress spokesperson Durgesh Sharma said: “The country chose Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister and he, along with Sardar Patel, worked for the farmers. They built dams and set up agriculture universities. BJP has not done even 1 per cent of what the Congress did for the farmers.”

While Shivraj Singh has promised to continue working for the farmers, the Congress has promised farm loan waiver within 10 days of taking office.

Employment

In response to a query by Congress MLA Ram Niwas Rawat during the recently budget session of the Assembly, the Shivraj Singh government informed the house that on an average only 17,600 jobs have been created every year in the past 14 years of the BJP rule in the state.

On an average 17,615 jobs were generated every year in public, private and cooperative sectors in the last 14 years (from 2014 to 2017), according to the figures.

The youths in the state are also miffed with the government for raising the retirement age of state government employees from 60 to 62 years. The young people believe it will further reduce the employment opportunities for them.

The data showed 2,46,612 jobs were generated in the state between 2004 and 2017. Of these, 2,27,386 jobs came from the private sector.

shivraj-690_112618113845.jpgYouths in the state are miffed with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government for increasing the retirement age of state government employees from 60 to 62 years. (Source: PTI)

In 2004, the number of unemployed (registered in state government-run employment exchanges) was 20,29,939, which went up to 23,78,559 by January 2018, the reply said.

The Economic Survey presented during the session said the number of educated unemployed stood at 11.24 lakh by the end of 2016.

Speaking on the job scenario at a rally in Sagar, Rahul Gandhi said: “Modiji has betrayed the people on his promise of providing jobs to two crore people every year and depositing Rs 15 lakh cash into their accounts by bringing (back) black money stashed abroad, Gandhi said, referring to Modi’s two poll promises made before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.”

In April 2018, Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government would create one lakh jobs in various departments and abolish the contractual employment system soon. He, however, did not give a time frame for the abolition.

Ram mandir

It is obvious that on both the job and agriculture front, the two main political parties in the fray do not have much to offer. While the Congress has promised a loan waiver, it is by now well inderstood that loan waivers are no long-term solution to the agricultural crisis facing Madhya Pradesh. On the job front too while the Congress has been critising the BJP government, it has failed to present any concrete plan to create more jobs.

On the other hand, while BJP policies both in agriculture and jobs help data look good, they have failed to make a significant change on the ground.

It is thus obvious that both parties need to play on emotive issues to appeal to voters. Religion thus comes in handy.

babbar-690_112618113640.jpgCongress leader Raj Babbar has said that his party has never opposed the construction of Ram temple, but the BJP isn't serious about the issue. (Source: India Today)

It is thus not surprising that the issue of Ram temple has once again found resonance in the election season.

Speaking at a rally in Indore, Congress leader Raj Babbar said that his party was never opposed to the Ram temple in Ayodhya and he now felt that even the Muslim community wanted it.

“BJP has never had any great passion for Lord Ram. Whenever there is election, the BJP starts seeking votes in Ram’s name. People have begun to realise that BJP is deceiving them. It promises to build the temple but will not tell the date,” he said.

The statement comes in the wake of several BJP leaders and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh demanding a legislative route to the temple issue in the election season.

Mayawati, supremo of the Bahujan Samaj Party, which won four seats in the 2013 Assembly election, said, “To divert attention from their failures, they raised Ram Mandir issue. Had their intentions been good, they needn’t have waited for five years. It’s their political tactic, nothing else. Whatever their associates like Shiv Sena and VHP are doing is part of their conspiracy.”

Which issue weighs on the voters mind on November 28 is something we will know only on December 11.

Also read: Madhya Pradesh polls: Why neither Congress nor BJP is talking about the real issues

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