Madhya Pradesh Results 2023: Congress is leading in 65 seats, the BJP is ahead in 165.
Congress's campaign chief in Madhya Pradesh, former Chief Minister Kamal Nath, took responsibility for the party's dismal showing in the state today. Senior party leader Randeep Surjewala at his side, Mr Nath said they would "look into why we couldn't communicate with the voters".
Data indicates that the Congress fell to the BJP in the communication battle long before the election was held. The party conducted few protests and lagged far behind the BJP in the number of rallies and public meetings.
To 634 rallies of the BJP, led by its top leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the Congress put together 350 -- around half.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alone held 165 rallies, criss-crossing the length and breadth of the state. Mr Nath, who is the face of the party, took part in 114 rallies.
In private, party leaders conceded that not hitting the streets had hurt the Congress prospects. There was no narrative on farmers which had won the Congress the last election. The 2018 polls were fought amid the white heat of farmers' protest across the state. The death of four farmers in police firing in Mandsaur had further played into the Congress hands.
What also did not work for the Congress was the OBC (Other Backward Castes) card -- the demand for a caste census that the party, in a first, has been backing. Neither did the soft Hindutva agenda that the Congress had been pushing since before 2018.
Mr Nath met sadhus and built statues of gods to counter the BJP's anti-Hindu allegation. Ahead of elections, the party's religious programmes increased in volume with the formation of the "Dharmik and Utsav Prakosth".
But it evoked a sharp reaction not just among Muslims, but also among the Other Backward Classes, who saw it as a fresh push for caste discrimination.
Party workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, also confided that the lack of fresh faces in the party had also hurt its prospects.
What worked big for the Congress in Telangana -- the induction and appointment of Revanth Reddy as the state unit chief -- was not implemented in Madhya Pradesh. The state's two key leaders -- Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh -- are in their 70s and the campaign lacked fresh energy.
At 6 pm, the Congress is leading in 65 seats, way behind the BJP, which is ahead in 165. In the tribal dominated Mahakoshal region which has 38 seats and has Kamal Nath's home turf, the BJP has made significant inroads, leading in 22 seats against the Congress's 16 seats. In 2018, the Congress had won 24 seats in the region.
In the Bundelkhand region, where the party was hoping to win a chunk of seats, the BJP is leading on 21 seats, while the Congress is ahead on just five.
In the 34-seats Gwalior-Chambal region, the home turf of Union ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Narendra Singh Tomar, state home minister Narottam Mishra and state BJP vice president VD Sharma, the BJP is leading on 13 seats, while the Congress continues to lead on 19 seats. In 2018 polls, when Mr Scindia was in the Congress, the party had swept the region winning 26 seats, leaving just 7 for the BJP.
On the 66 seats in the Malwa-Nimar region, which for decades has been a BJP stronghold, the Congress lost the edge it gained in 2018. From 34 seats, it is down to 18, while the BJP has gone up from 29 to 47.