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Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh In the December 2018 election for the 230-member Assembly, the Congress won 77 seats and was leading in 37 seats. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 74 seats and was leading in 35 others. The Bahujan Samaj Party was leading in two seats and the Samajwadi Party won one seat. Independents, most of whom are Congress rebels, won in three seats and leading in one.

Madhya Pradesh saw a close fight that swung wildly between the Congress and the BJP, whose Shivraj Singh Chouhan was eyeing a record fourth term. But Chouhan tendered his resignation to Governor Anandiben Patel, adding that the BJP will not stake claim to form the government in Madhya Pradesh.

The Congress, which was locked in a tantalising see-saw battle with the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, emerged as the single-largest party with 114 seats after the vote count ended, according to the State Election Commission Office. The party is, however, two short of the simple majority mark, 116 seats, in the 230-member Assembly. The BJP was close behind with 109 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party won two seats and the Samajwadi Party one. Independents bagged four seats.

In a bid to outwit possible BJP moves, the Congress in Madhya Pradesh moved swiftly seeking a meeting with the Governor claiming it has got majority support and should be invited to form the next government. Madhya Pradesh Congress President Kamal Nath wrote a letter to Governor Anandiben Patel 11 December 2018 and sought an early response from her.

Seeking to keep the BJP out of power, BSP chief Mayawati Wednesday said her party will extend support to the Congress to form the government in Madhya Pradesh and, if required, in Rajasthan too. With the Congress managing a wafer-thin majority in Madhya Pradesh, she said the BJP is making efforts to return to power in the state. We fought elections to keep the BJP out of power We do not agree with the philosophy of the Congress. But to keep the BJP out of power, we will extend it our support, she said in a statement.

Madhya Pradesh had been ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003. Under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP-RSS combine (its hard to distinguish between them in MP), have ensured that their workers and functionaries are benefitted financially, often, through government contracts, tenders and schemes. Most of the public works are now executed by BJP workers-turned-contractors. A majority of the states locally elected bodies like "mandis", marketing and cooperative societies and municipal bodies are now controlled by the BJP and so is the flow of government funds.

The BJP-RSS and the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government have routinely organised mass festivals, anniversaries and occasions at huge cost to the state exchequer. A number of other religion-based events are organised by the BJP-RSS network of cadres and workers. BJP MLAs and local leaders in their constituencies and areas of influence replicate this template of event management. These are almost always conducted in the presence of priests and "godmen" of questionable reputations. Unsurprisingly, there has been a sharp growth in the number of religious (Hindu) events and pseudo-religiosity in the state.

Elections in Madhya Pradesh have always been a bi-polar contest between the BJP and the Congress, but the outcome of many of these has been affected by the BSP, which has eaten into the BJP vote share in the past. For the last five bypolls, however, Mayawatis party refrained from fielding candidates, resulting in a Congress victory in four of these. By 2018 Congree was also planning a strategic understanding with the Samajwadi Party and Gondwana Ganatantra Party, which has sizable backing among tribal voters in Mahakaushal region. The BSP is influential among the Dalit votebank and may help the Congress in closely fought seats.

The Congress won the Mungaoli and Kolaras seat in Madhya Pradesh, where by-elections were held 24 February 2018. In Kolaras constituency, Congress candidate Mahendra Singh Yadav defeated his nearest rival, BJP's Devendra Kumar Jain Pattewale, by over 8,000 votes. In Mungaoli, Congress' Brijendra Singh Yadav defeated BJP's Bai Sahab Rao Deshraj Singh Yadav by over 2,100 votes. The outcome of the two by-polls, held on February 24, are being seen as a possible pointer to the mood of people ahead of the Assembly elections due later this year in the BJP-ruled state. The ruling BJP haD gone flat out to try and wrest the seats away from the opposition party with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan leading an aggressive campaign.

Three full terms in power leading to a wave of anti-incumbency against BJP, a large-scale scam, rising farmer discontent has opened up the possibility of the Indian National Congress returning to power. Two issues particularly highlighted the growing discontent among the people against the chief minister and his government. The first concerned the Vyapam Scam - the active part of former ministers, and allegations against Chauhan and next, the omission of the government to provide adequate security to the several stakeholders who died mysterious deaths. Second being the governments questionable policy towards farmers, especially deaths caused by police opening fire on protesting farmers in Mandsaur district.

The 2018 election will be held for 230 seats in between November-December 2018, but no later than 09 January 2019. In the last assembly elections in 2013, Bharatiya Janata Party won a total of 165 seats while and BSP won 4 seats. With a mere 58 seats in the 230-seat Assembly, the Congress will have to work extremely hard to reach the half-way mark. With these elections seen as a run-up to the 2019 General Election, the party would want to provide Rahul with opportunities to showcase his leadership abilities.

Despite the wealth of its resources and tremendous potential, Madhya Pradesh faces a number of challenges, in terms of environment and development. Some districts in MPare among the highest in India in terms of social vulnerability to the twin challenges of Climate Change and economic globalization. The incidence of poverty in the state is among the highest in the country. Maintaining and enhancing productivity in agriculture is one major challenge, arising out of a number of reasons such as loss of soil fertility, increasing cost of production and owing to the largely rain-fed nature of agriculture in the state. Erratic and uneven distribution of rainfall poses a major constraint for achieving targeted levels of production.



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