With the Congress being completely dominated by the BJP in most of the 28 constituencies that went to by-polls in Madhya Pradesh, hopes of the party returning to power in the next Assembly elections have certainly diminished by a large extent. This article focuses on analysing the results of the by-elections of November 2020 to gauge the degree of impact Jyotiraditya Scindia’s political defection along with 25 sitting MLAs has had on the people of Madhya Pradesh and why the performance by the Congress in the by-polls is a clear indication of the failure and unrest in the party’s leadership not just in Madhya Pradesh, but across the nation.
ROHIT KUMAR V
The results of the State Assembly by-elections to 28 constituencies in Madhya Pradesh (MP) witnessed the BJP cement its dominance, primarily in its lost bastions of Malwa-Nimar and Chambal-Gwalior where the party emerged victorious in 6 of the 7 seats in the former region and in 9 of the 16 seats in the latter region, courtesy of the party’s new induction – Jyotiraditya Scindia. The vote share percentage which earlier stood at 41.33 percent for the BJP and 41.35 per cent for the INC post the 2018 Assembly elections saw a drastic shift in the margin to 9 per cent between the two parties in the by-elections – the BJP at 49.5 per cent and the Congress at 40.5 per cent. Out of the 28 seats contested, the BJP emerged victorious in 19, while the Congress was restricted to a mere 9 seats. If anything, it was the BJP that had the last laugh, as besides winning a majority of the seats in the by-polls, it altered the victory margins that these constituencies have witnessed in the past, completely decimating the Congress’s popularity.
Out of the 19 seats, the BJP secured a victory margin of more than 50,000 votes in 3 constituencies – Sanwer, Bamori and Sanchi that are reserved for the Scheduled Caste (besides Bamori) and ones formerly belonged to the Congress post the 2018 elections. Tulsiram Silawat from Sanwer, Mahendra Singh Sisodia from Bamori and Dr Prabhuram Chaudhary from Sanchi were 3 of the 25 MLA’s who defected along with Scindia to the BJP in early 2020. Their defections clearly had no negative impact on their respective constituency voters, rather, if anything, it furthered their influence and popularity in the regions as their margins of victory increased massively in the by-elections contesting as BJP candidates in comparison to that of 2018 when they were fielded by the Congress. Tulsiram Silawat’s victory margin increased from 2,945 votes to a massive 53,264; Mahendra Singh’s from 27,920 to 53,153 and Dr Prabhuram Chaudhary’s from 10,813 to that of 63,809. On the contrary, the Congress failed to secure any seat with a vote margin of more than 50,000.
Dissecting the constituencies which witnessed a victory margin of more than 30,000; the BJP yet again subjugated the Congress in this front comfortably bagging 5 seats with such a margin while the Congress was limited to 1. These 5 seats of Gwalior, Surkhi, Anuppur, Badnawar and Suwasra that the BJP secured are the biggest takeaway from these by-elections. What makes these 5 seats important? Since 1980, these constituencies have witnessed 9 elections and barring Gwalior, the Congress has dominated the BJP in all the other 4 regions. Gwalior has been a highly contested seat – courtesy of BJP’s Yashodhara Raje Scindia and INC’s Madhavrao and Jyotiraditya Scindia’s tussle for power. The BJP has emerged victorious 5 times and the Congress 4. While, the rise of Jyotiraditya did benefit the Congress to a large extent in the 2018 elections when his candidate Pradhuman Singh Tomar won Gwalior with a margin of 21,044 votes, his defection proved to be troublesome as this move of Scindia had no negative effect on the people of Gwalior. They voted Pradhuman Singh who defected with Scindia back to power in this by-elections with an even larger victory margin of 33,123 votes, proving yet again that Scindia is the one true leader of their land.
Besides Gwalior, the constituencies of Surkhi, Badnawar and Suwasra have voted the Congress to power 5 of the 9 times and the BJP 4. Anuppur narrates a similar story but here the Congress has claimed the seat 6 times, while the BJP was restricted to 3. The by-elections saw the BJP ambitiously fielding the same candidates who defected from the Congress to their party in these Congress stronghold regions. This move did not fail the BJP, as all its four candidates emerged victorious with a larger victory margin, with the exception of Badnawar. From a victory margin of 21,418 votes in 2018 to 40,991 in this by-elections, Surkhi brought Govind Singh Rajput back to power.
Dang Hardeep Singh’s victory in Suwarsa too witnessed a similar rise in the victory margin from 350 to 29,440 votes. Anuppur’s Bisahu Lal Singh has a victory margin of 34,864 votes to his name – an increase of 23,303 votes in comparison to his 2018 performance representing the Congress. Badnawar is the only constituency, where Rajvardhan Singh — a Congress-to-BJP defected candidate — was unable to increase his victory margin, but nevertheless secured a victory for the BJP. The INC claimed victory in its SC reserved seat of Karera yet again, a region that has been the party’s stronghold. Since 1980, the Congress has won the constituency 5 times with a large margin while the BJP has managed to secure the same about 3 times. The Jatav family represented by Pragilal Jatav overthrew the BJP defected Jasmat Jatav and claimed victory in Karera with a margin of 30,641 seats. This is the only region that the INC won with a victory margin of over 30,000 votes in this by-elections and is also the largest margin of victory it secured in all the 28 constituencies. The other constituency that followed up this large victory margin for the Congress was Dimani, where Ravindra Singh Tomar won by a margin of 26,467 votes.
While the BJP did claim victory in the Pohari seat with a margin of 22,496 votes, the major chunk of BJP’s victories, i.e., 7 of their 19 seats came with a victory margin less than 20,000 votes. The party’s victories in Jaura, Ambah, Mehgaon, Bhander, Hatpipilia, Malhara, and Ashok Nagar, that previously had a sitting Congress MLA sent out a clear message that the common people of Bihar surpassed the vote bank politics of the State. The victory margins clearly show that, besides the upper caste voters, a high percentage of the SC/ST cadre instated their hopes in the BJP, especially the SC reserved seats of Jaura, Bhander and Ashok Nagar.
The Congress did equally well under the category of victory margins less than 20,000 votes claiming 7 seats to its name as well, securing the constituencies of Agar, Biaora, Dabara, Gwalior East, Gohad, Morena and Sumaoli. While winning these regions does seem to be a positive takeaway for Kamal Nath and the Congress, the massive decrease in victory margins in 6 of these 7 constituencies – barring the seat of Biaora – in comparison to the 2018 results, should be a matter of serious concern for the party’s high command in the State. Agar’s victory margin decreased from 2,490 to 1,998; Dabara’s from 57,446 to 7,633; Gwalior East’s from 17,819 to 8,555; Gohad’s from 23,989 to 11,899; Morena’s from 20,849 to 5,751 and Sumaoli’s from 13,313 to 10,947 votes respectively. While several of the senior party leaders claimed this decrease was due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, one cannot refrain from making a comparison to nullify this statement that the BJP under similar circumstances has secured a thumping majority in most of its winning seats – 3 of which were more than 50,000 votes and 5 of which were more than 30,000 votes.
Jyotiraditya Scindia’s resignation from the Congress and his political defection along with 25 sitting MLAs to the BJP is a clear indication of the failure and unrest in the party’s leadership that the Congress is being faced with not just in Madhya Pradesh, but across the nation. If anything, the implications of these defections in Madhya Pradesh have established how desperately the party requires reforms, both at the State and the National level high command. With the Congress being completely dominated by the BJP in most of the 28 constituencies that went to by-polls, hopes of the party returning to power in the next Assembly elections have certainly diminished by a large extent. Focus now turns to what the Shivraj Singh Chauhan led cabinet and the BJP have in store for the State of Madhya Pradesh leading up to the next Assembly elections in 2023.
Rohit Kumar V is Research Intern at Centre for Public Policy Research. Views expressed are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research.
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