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 highlights of Dr Prannoy Roy's election analysis:
The turnout of women this time could be higher, says Dr Prannoy Roy.
In 2013 Madhya Pradesh elections, women participated as actively as men in the electoral process. This time around, turnout of women could be even higher.
As per 2013 voting pattern, BJP lead over Congress was strongest in Malwa non-tribal and Mahakoshal regions, while gains in Chambal and Vindhya Pradesh were in a narrow 3-4 per cent band.
The old tradition of women voting as their husbands ask them to is changing, says poll expert Shekhar Gupta.
Shivraj Chouhan is BJP's trump card. He is a good speaker and popular even after 15 years in power, says Dr Prannoy Roy.
BJP has a strong base among urban voters as compared to their hold in villages. But the worrying factor for the party is that it has been losing ground in recent municipal elections in Madhya Pradesh.
Municipal elections are a reliable indicator of upcoming results if they are held within 6 months of the state polls and these were held in 2017, says Dr Prannoy Roy.
Madhya Pradesh has grown 10-12 per cent a year under BJP - which is among the highest in the country - but from a very small base. So it hasn't caught up to other states, says Prannoy Roy. "People have unequivocally decided that they want to oust this (BJP) government": Congress' Kamal Nath on Madhya Pradesh assembly elections.
"I haven't seen this in 40 years. Every section of society is against this government, and they are looking for a change. And this change is happening now on a daily basis, on an hourly basis."BJP attempting to communalise the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, says Congress' Kamal Nath.
"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."Is Congress' Kamal Nath worried about the "Modi magic"?
"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." Congress' Kamal Nath, when asked if he was going to be the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, says "didn't want this job".
"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."
The recent by-elections in the state have shown a swing towards BJP, with the party doing well in the last 3 polls."The time for Madhya Pradesh is one for change," says Congress' Jyotiraditya Scindia.
"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 ji
says, 15 saal bemisaal
. I say, 15 saal, behaal
and now is the time to bring about change."Question: Tell me one indicator which might, which must, worry you in the by-elections that happened, where although the Congress held onto both seats, the margins narrowed terribly and there was about a 10-12% swing in favour of BJP but they still lost. That swing in favour - did that worry you?Jyotiraditya Scindia
: At the end of the day, you either win or you lose. We have had 5 by-elections in Madhya Pradesh in the last 12 months - 4 on an assembly level and 1 on a Lok Sabha level. I, personally, was in charge for 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 made with 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 parliamentary constituency. Their single effort was to make sure I lose, but I've 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
".Question: Of the 2, who is your main opponent, Modi or Shivraj?Jyotiraditya Scindia
: Wait, let me tell you this - this election has turned into an 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 is a 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.Question: According to you, which one of these 2 leaders, Modi and Shivraj, is slightly less popular?Jyotiraditya Scindia
: Well, I think, both are at this point of time, extremely unpopular with the people of Madhya Pradesh. But, as I said before, state elections are fought on local issue not on a global scale. And therefore what is in focus is the 15 years of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan ji
government, which has today, abysmally failed the people - on all issues from the health indicators to education indicators to agrarian distress to 21,000 farmers committing suicide over the last 15 years to the Mandsaur incident - where farmers were killed, shot at, in cold blood, to malnutrition, to women's security, to 1 crore of my youth in my state being unemployed - what is working? Because all I can see is that nothing is working in Madhya Pradesh.Question: We have travelled across the state and have interacted with many people and observed, one very popular scheme in these elections in MP has been the Pucca Houses. How are you going to counter that?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 out 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.Question: What went wrong with your party's tie-up with Mayawati? Are the doors closed to this alliance in future? Jyotiraditya Scindia
: Well, it didn't work out 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.Question: What is that one worry that is on your mind when you go to sleep at night?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."Question: Still, what's that one worry that you have on your mind?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.Question: Thank you very much for joining us, I know that for once in your life you are working very hard. Tell me, we're trying to understand, for 15 years the Congress has been out. Why, what happened?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.Question: The question also is why for the last 15 years, the Congress hasn't been able to make a comeback? BJP won last time by 9%, which is a big margin. What are the issues that have caused this huge gap in the Congress ruling this state? 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.Question: Issues?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.Question: So now elections are about to happen. What are your two worries and two factors that you're pleased with? I know you'll start with the pleased with.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.Question: I've heard that, but you never know if it's fake or true.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.Question: So transportation meaning getting...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. Question: Do you regret not tying up with the BSP?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.
To bring you this special analyses from the ground, here are the places Prannoy Roy and team visited across Madhya Pradesh.
Will Madhya Pradesh vote for the party they voted for in the last assembly elections? Do voters want a change of guard? Here's what our interviews with 190 people show.Question: Thank you very much for joining us. In this election, you've been in power for 15 years. Are you worried about fourth term meaning anti-incumbency? 15 years is quite difficult to win again.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.Question: But this time you are facing a fairly united Congress party, is that right? More united from before. 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.
Will BJP hold on to Madhya Pradesh after three terms? Here's what opinion polls suggest
In 2013 Madhya Pradesh elections, the BJP won by a huge margin of 9 per cent and the Congress will need a massive 5 per cent swing to cross the halfway mark.
I don't see a swing towards the Congress. I see a swing away from the BJP. Whether that will be enough to get the Congress a win, is not certain yet, says poll expert Shekhar Gupta.
Bhil and Gond: Data shows the two dominant ethnic tribes have followed a very different voting pattern in the state.
Factors that are working for and against the BJP and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh - from by-poll results, farmer issues, anti-incumbency to freebies and more.