BJP Scoops 2 States From Congress, Retains 1

Election Results 2023: The Congress was hoping for a second term in Chhattisgarh and most exit polls had predicted the same thing.

BJP Scoops 2 States From Congress, Retains 1

The BJP has ruled in Madhya Pradesh almost non-stop since 2003.

New Delhi:

The BJP's electoral juggernaut may have faced a setback in Karnataka earlier this year, but it seems to be peaking just when the party needs it to.

The Lok Sabha polls are less than six months away and one of the key factors that experts have been looking at is how the Congress fares in states where it is in a direct contest with the BJP. In the current round of elections, there were three such states - Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - and early leads indicate that the BJP will not just form a government in all of them, but get a majority on its own. 

Of the three, the trends in Rajasthan are not very surprising because the state is known for its revolving-door policy and voters have not elected an incumbent government since 1993. The Congress was banking on 'jadugar' (magician) Ashok Gehlot and its welfare schemes to buck the trend, but leads indicate that voters have decided to go for a change once again. 

The Congress was hoping for a second term in Chhattisgarh and most exit polls had predicted the same thing, but the BJP is currently leading in 53 of the state's 90 seats, adding a feather to its cap.  

The state that is likely to make the party the happiest, however, is Madhya Pradesh, where it seems to be headed for a sweep despite ruling there almost non-stop since 2003. The party was out of power only for about 15 months from 2018, when a Congress government led by Kamal Nath was elected. The Nath government fell in 2020 after a rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia, paving the way for the BJP to make a comeback.

The BJP is leading in 160 of Madhya Pradesh's 230 seats and, if the trends hold, the result will come as a major confidence boost for the party because it demonstrates that it has an answer to anti-incumbency even when it builds up over decades. 

The trends in all three states are also a testament to the enduring popularity of Narendra Modi and lend credence to the BJP's claim that he is the tallest political leader in the country. Despite having a four-term chief minister in Madhya Pradesh in Shivraj Singh Chouhan and multi-term former chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the party decided not to project a regional face in any of the states. 

All three were also, to some extent, perceived to be sidelined when many of their supporters failed to get tickets and the campaign was led by PM Modi, and some analysts had wondered whether the move would backfire. The trends reassert the PM's primacy and may also make it easier for the top leadership to opt for other chief ministers if it chooses to do so.

The only consolation for the Congress is Telangana, where it is leading in 67 seats and looks set to unseat the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, which has ruled in the state since its formation in 2014.