The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has announced that it will contest over 200 seats in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. This could be bad news for the Congress as in the past, the Sharad Pawar-led party has harmed its chances in a few seats.
Senior leader and Maharashtra Legislative Council member Rajendra Jain and the party's Gujarat unit spokesperson Nakul Singh released the NCP's manifesto in Bhopal today.
"We are trying to have a coalition with like-minded parties in the state. We will contest over 200 seats out of the total 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh," the two leaders told reporters.
Voting for the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly is scheduled for November 28 and counting of votes will be taken up on December 11.
Mr Jain and Mr Singh said that the party will provide free water and power to farmers, besides waiving their loans.
"The party will deploy marshals in market areas for the safety of women," they further promised.
Claiming that the people of the state were facing a difficult situation due to 15 years of BJP rule, they said that the NCP would work towards generating employment for the youth.
The NCP also promised to bring petrol and diesel under the Goods and Services Tax regime to provide relief to people from skyrocketing fuel prices.
In the 2013 assembly elections, the NCP had contested 72 seats in Madhya Pradesh with a vote share of 0.3 per cent across the state. In the seats it contested, its average vote share was a little less than 1 per cent. All its candidates ended up forfeiting their deposits.
However, it is said to have contributed to the defeat of Congress candidates in four tightly-contested seats where the NCP's votes were more than the BJP's margin over the grand old party.
In the Sardarpur constituency in Dhar district, the NCP candidate polled a little over 2200 votes. The Congress candidate lost to the BJP by a margin of just 529 votes.
In the Barghat constituency in Seoni district, the NCP candidate polled 1692 votes. The BJP won the seat by a margin of 269 votes.
In Panna district's Gunnour seat, the NCP secured 1384 votes and the Congress lost the seat to the BJP by a margin of 1337 votes.
In the Chhatarpur Assembly seat in the district of the same name, the NCP candidate got 2251 votes. The BJP defeated the Congress by a margin of 2217 votes.
In the 2008 elections, the NCP contested just three seats in the state and forfeited its deposit in two of them. In the third seat, Burhanpur, its candidate Hamid Kazi came second with the support of the Congress.
The party's best performance in Madhya Pradesh was in 2003 when Mr Kazi won from Burhanpur and the party got a respectable vote share in six other seats - Sendhwa (21.4 per cent) Datia (16.4 per cent), Lanji (12.7 per cent), Waraseoni (12.6 per cent) and Mahidpur (12.3 per cent) and Bhikangaon (10.6 per cent).
With inputs from Press Trust of India