A high voter turnout was recorded today in Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress is trying to defeat the BJP that has won the assembly elections three times in a row. From 72.7 per cent in 2013, the provisional figure for Madhya Pradesh was 74.6 per cent, the Election Commission said. The Congress, which is contesting polls in Madhya Pradesh for the first time under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, is expecting anti-incumbency against Shivraj Chouhan, the state Chief Minister for three terms, to do the trick for them. Mr Chouhan, however, is of the view that his party will win riding on his performance as chief minister for the last 15 years. In this edition of The Countdown, NDTV's Dr Prannoy Roy and other poll experts take a look at whether the BJP will be able to hold on to the state. In the programme, Dr Roy speaks to the three big leaders of the Congress in the state - Jyotiraditya Schindia, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh.
Here are the live updates of Dr Prannoy Roy's analysis:
#TheCountdown | Why are farmers unhappy in Madhya Pradesh? Prannoy Roy and team visit a bank- NDTV (@ndtv) November 28, 2018
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#TheCountdown | "People have unequivocally decided that they want to oust this (BJP) government": Congress' @OfficeOfKNath on #MadhyaPradeshElections2018- NDTV (@ndtv) November 28, 2018
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Prabhat Jha: Where is the unity? They unite when Rahul Gandhi comes here. The rest of the time they are like an orange. One unit from outside, but many pieces on the inside. The Congress has no workers on the ground. They have 40-50 individual leaders who think they can win an election by themselves. At the booth level, on the ground, they have nobody. Because they have become an election party. When the elections come, so does Rahul Gandhi. And so does Kamal Nath. Why don't you ask him how many districts he has visited? He has been here for six months. There are 51 districts. Has he been to even 20 or 25? Has Jyotiraditya Scindia been? Where are the leaders? Digvijaya Singh is having to admit that if I start campaigning, I will cut into the party's votes. So how will these leaders get them votes? This is why we are not saying anything. We are campaigning as strongly as we did in 2003. We trust the people. We have brought the light of development, not the light of Diwali, into 5 crore 50 lakh homes. 1 crore families are beneficiaries in every way.
Prabhat Jha: As a journalist, I heard the word anti-incumbency at the time Prakash Chandra Sethi was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. It is a word used only during the elections. In comparison, in 15 years here, our work has been pro-poor. We used to be called the party of baniyas & brahmins and now we are called the party of the poor. So we proudly say the BJP is the only pro-poor party and we are working for the poor. Middle class families, lower class families, they all are with us.
Digvijaya Singh: No we wanted to tie up with them but they jumped the gun. They declared 22 seats without our understanding. So that became difficult.
Question: But is it a regret that you didn't?
Digvijaya Singh: Not really regret. But I can tell you the two positives. There is a huge groundswell against the BJP. So it's not the parties, the people are fighting against the BJP now. And that has become evident in the last two three days.
Digvijaya Singh: The money to...
Question:: ....the voters to the booth, that sort of thing or getting their candidates out
Digvijaya Singh: Handing over the money to the candidates
Question: Oh I see, transporting the money, okay.
Digvijaya Singh: Number two, they have had some links with the Gondwana Gantantra Parishad. Gondwana Gantantra Parishad has been taking money from the BJP and putting up candidates. I don't know about BSP but BSP list also and Samajwadi list also is something that brings in a doubt.
Digvijaya Singh: No, that can be checked. But I have checked myself and voice sort of matches with Mukesh Tandon and Rakesh Kumar Singh. So huge money they would be pumping and they have planned it in a way that transportation is not a problem now, number one.
Digvijaya Singh: No, I'll start with worries. Worries that they are throwing a lot of money in the last three days. And they've got a huge amount of money.
Digvijaya Singh: Issues, of course, Congress could not really put up a real challenge as an opposition party for 5 years.
Question: Why is that?
Digvijaya Singh: Probably, I would say, people were more engaged in their own areas.
Question: So it was a divided party. Is it still slightly divided?
Digvijaya Singh: I can assure you that I have never seen Congress party so united as this time.
Digvijaya Singh: Well, first of all, there were more than 60 lakh bogus voters which we don't look at. This time we have done a very close scrutiny of the voters list and we've been able to identify voters who have figured at different polling booths in different assembly.
Digvijaya Singh: First of all, let me strongly object 'for first time in my life I'm working hard'. I worked hard all my life. Anyway, see I kept out of the campaign because I was asked to, sort of, not to interfere too much in Madhya Pradesh. So I kept out of the two campaigns. Whatever I could, whatever I was asked to do, I did it. This time I have spent one year, more than one year now, in Madhya Pradesh. First, walking 3100 kms. along the river Narmada, covering about 104 constituencies. Then we started this coordination committee meetings in every district where I covered 194, including so many senior leaders who are not fighting assembly elections. And we covered 194 constituencies and we met more than 200,000 workers one to one to get a feel of what is happening on the ground.
Jyotiraditya Scindia: I think, this time we have knitted together the campaign really well. Our feet are on the ground, our foot soldiers are on the ground, our workers are in great gusto and great form. I think, the people of Madhya Pradesh will give you a very clear verdict in terms of... whether we can ensure that we take our voters to the polling booths and ensure that they cast their franchise. Conversion factor...from sentiment to actual polling is crucial in an election.
Jyotiraditya Scindia:Not one. Not one, Prannoy, but many. I was fortunate enough to be taught at Business school at Stanford by one of the Founders of Intel, Andy Grove, and he told us, in his last class, he said, "Whatever you guys do in life, good luck to you guys. I only leave you with one last word of advice. Always remember that only the paranoid survive. So, I am paranoid. I always am. It is good to be paranoid."
Jyotiraditya Scindia:Well, it didn't workout and that's fine because sometimes things are not to be but that doesn't mean that the door is closed on that relationship for the future. In the Lok Sabha, we will try and write earnest to develop that relationship, once again.
Jyotiraditya Scindia: First of all, that scheme was setup by the Congress government and the loans for the houses that I've been giving out today, are being given on the basis of the survey that we carried out when Dr Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister in 2012 and 2013. So, it is on the basis of the hard work of the Congress, that today, this scheme is being unveiled. Also, people do remember that this housing scheme has been in place for the last 15 years - all the way from the years of the Congress government.
Jyotiraditya Scindia: Wait, let me tell you this - this election has turned into a election of the people vs the BJP. So, the main opponent of the people of Madhya Pradesh are both - Shivraj Singh Chouhan ji and Narendra Modi ji, for all the havoc there has been wrecked upon them, in the last 15 years and the last 5 years. There in saying in English that goes, 'you can fool some of the people, and some of the time but you cannot fool all the people, all the time". The time for reckoning, for the BJP, is now here.
Prannoy, at the end of the day you either win or you lose. We have had 5 by-elections in Madhya Pradesh in the 12 months - 4 on an assembly level and 1 on a Lok Sabha level. I, personally, was in charge of 3 out of the 4 on the assembly level. The Congress Party has won all 5 by-elections in Madhya Pradesh in the last one year - a very clear signal to the BJP that they are on their way out. As for the remark to made with the regard to margins, please do remember, in a by-election and historically speaking...and you have that sense of history behind you, having been part of covering elections for the last 30 to 40 years. By-elections in India always generally go in favour of the incumbent government. In Madhya Pradesh, it has been the other way round which very clearly tells you that all the money pressure, political pressure; I had 40 ministers of the government sitting in 2 assemblies, in my parliament constituency. Their single efforts was to make sure I lose but I always said this and I repeated on your show that "BJP ke dhanbal ke oopar, BJP ke bahubal ke oopar, Janabal haavi ho chuka hai".
"Every segment of society needs to be uplifted in Madhya Pradesh. Whether it's the farmers, the youth, the women... everyone has suffered over the last 15 years. Shivraj Singh says, "15 saal bemisaal". I say, "15 saal, behaal" and now is the time to bring about change."
"I didn't want this job to start with. Now having taken this job, I am not hungry for a post or position... We don't have a chief ministerial candidate. Whoever our party decides, whatever modality Mr Rahul Gandhi wants to adopt in naming the chief minister, he will do so. I am very happy with that."
"If Modi magic and Amit Shah magic didn't work in the biggest bastion of the BJP (Gujarat), then where do I see it working now? The depreciation of PM Modi is happening tremendously. What he was able to do one or two years back, he can't do that now."
"What worries me are the attempts by the BJP to communalise this election. They will try... because this has been their game. That's the card left - to try and communalise the elections. But I think that the people of Madhya Pradesh are smart enough to know that."