Madhya Pradesh Assembly election results will tell us more about 2019 than all other four states, here’s why

Madhya Pradesh has emerged as the most coveted prize to bag among the three north Indian states due to elect their new Assemblies this year. This is because Madhya Pradesh mirrors the big Indian story of agrarian distress, economic disruptions caused by demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax, and social conflict. Should the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) still win the state for the fourth time in a row, the Congress will seem a ship doomed to sink in the whirlpool of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Conversely, a Congress victory will have the party set sail its flotilla for capturing power in Delhi.

Among the three north Indian states, Chhattisgarh’s national significance is limited as it sends only 11 MPs to the Lok Sabha. By contrast, Madhya Pradesh has 29 Lok Sabha seats, just three more than Rajasthan’s 26. Yet Rajasthan has been relegated in importance because a Congress triumph here will be par for the course. Ever since the BJP formed the government in Rajasthan in 1993, the power there has alternated between it and the Congress every five years. A Congress victory, therefore, cannot be taken as a reflection of the political mood in north India.

By contrast, the BJP won 165 out 230 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh in 2013, 143 in 2008, and 173 in 2003. More significantly, it polled 44.87 percent of votes in 2013, 37.64 percent in 2008, and 42.50 percent in 2003. In fact, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s vote share ballooned to a stunning 54.03 percent, a rarity in India.

“In the aftermath of the fall of the Congress nationally, there are not many states where the dominance of one single party has been shaping so clearly. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is not only kept out of power, but the BJP has also established its domination beyond electoral politics,” wrote Yatindra Singh Sisodia in Electoral Politics in Madhya Pradesh: Explaining the BJP consolidation, a paper he authored in 2014.

Based on the post-poll survey he conducted for the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, Sisodia, quite significantly, added, “It (BJP) has also been able to spread its support base across social sections… While the leadership (Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) factor that contributed to the electoral success may have limitations in the long run, the fact that the BJP has wider social base and that it is seen as a party that may perform better than its rivals, will surely remain more dependable factors in this consolidation.”Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Narendra Modi. AFP file image

Not only has the Congress been kept out of power in Madhya Pradesh for 15 years, it lags far behind the BJP. For instance, it polled 36.38 percent of votes in the 2013 Assembly elections, nearly nine percent less than the BJP. Yet the hopes of the Congress have risen because of the social and economic tumult in the state, making it believe that the moment is propitious to overcome the massive lead the BJP has over it. Only a Congress win or photo finish in Madhya Pradesh will provide proof whether anti-incumbency, of even indeterminate magnitude, has set in against Modi and the BJP.

Yet the task of beating the BJP in Madhya Pradesh is formidable. For instance, agrarian distress in the state has been grabbing headlines, mostly notably when five farmers died in police firing last year. Traditionally, the BJP is considered an urban-centric party. Yet, in 2013, out of 194 constituencies in the state where urban population is less than 50 percent, the BJP won as many as 132, against the 55 that the Congress won. These comparative figures show the BJP has roots deep enough in rural Madhya Pradesh to limit the outfall of the discontent among farmers.

The challenge before the Congress to eat into the BJP’s rural base can also be perceived from the perspective of caste. The largest segment of agriculturists in the state belongs to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), which account for around 42 percent of the electorate. Chouhan is a Dhakad, an OBC community engaged in agriculture and constituting about 3 to 4 percent of the state’s electorate.

The BJP’s OBC base is formidable – 67 percent of Yadavs voted for it in 2013 as against 25 percent of them for the Congress. The chasm between the two parties was less when it came to the support of non-Yadav OBCs – 45 percent of them voted for the BJP and 35 percent for the Congress. Given that the Dhakads are not numerically preponderant, it can be argued that Chouhan’s OBC identity will not stem the BJP’s slide because of agrarian distress.

However, Chouhan has refrained from harping on his OBC identity, choosing instead to project himself as the “son of a farmer.” He has repeatedly projected the Congress as the party of “raja (Digvijay Singh), maharaja (Jyotiradita Scindia) and udyogpati (industrialist).” In this context, it will be interesting to see whether agrarian distress will drive farmers to desert one of their own fighting to save his chief ministerial chair.

Should the BJP’s support among OBC farmers crack in a state that is its stronghold, it will be to the benefit of Opposition parties anchored among middle castes. In north India, the gains will not accrue to the Congress, whose upper caste leadership structure has always shied away from courting the OBCs on the basis of their caste identity.

As such, in Madhya Pradesh, both the upper castes and OBCs have been railing against the BJP for reversing the Supreme Court judgment that was seen to have diluted the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

In 2013, the BJP won 28 out of 35 seats reserved for SCs and 31 out of 47 seats reserved for STs. The anger among the upper castes and OBCs could, quite surprisingly, adversely impact the BJP in the SC reserved seats. This is because in 30 out of 35 such seats, the OBCs and the upper castes together account for as much as 60-65 percent of votes. Should they decide to not support the BJP, its 2013 tally of 28 seats would likely dip.

Comprising less than 16 percent of the electorate, the upper castes have been die-hard supporters of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh – 57 percent of Brahmins, 60 percent of Rajputs and 43 percent of other upper castes voted for the BJP in 2013. In comparison, only 22 percent of Brahmins, 25 percent of Rajputs and 25 percent of other upper castes did for the Congress.

Is the disaffection of the upper castes against the BJP strong enough to propel them in decisive numbers to the Congress? The answer to this question will determine whether the Congress will continue to play the soft Hindu card, such as indulging in its own brand of politics over the cow and projecting its leader Rahul Gandhi as the janeu-dhari Brahmin. Madhya Pradesh could very well have the Congress redefining its self – and becoming a pole to which the upper castes, particularly Brahmins, could decide to flock.

In hindsight, one reason why the Congress did not stitch an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was perhaps because it feared such a decision would alienate the upper castes and OBCs-farmers. In 2013, 36 percent of SCs voted for the BJP in 2013, 33 percent for the Congress and 22 percent for the BSP. What the Congress could have gained from aligning with the BSP, it hopes to more than make up with the votes of the upper castes and farmers.

Yet it might become a problem for the Congress if the BSP’s vote-share among Dalits increases exponentially and the upper castes and OBCs don’t desert the BJP in significant numbers. In 2013, out of 57 constituencies having SC population of 20 percent and above, the Congress won just eight seats and the BJP a whopping 46. Then again, out of 80 seats in which STs constituted 20 percent or more of the population, the BJP won 49 seats and the Congress 29.

Much has been written on Madhya Pradesh’s economic woes arising from demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax. In 2013, the BJP polled 42 percent of votes of the upper income group, 46 percent of the middle income group, 45 percent of the lower income group, and 44 percent of the poor. By contrast, the Congress polled 27 of votes of the upper income group, 34 percent of the middle income group, 38 percent of the lower income group, and 44 percent of the poor.

In other words, the BJP was voted by as many poor as was the Congress, traditionally the principal recipient of their votes. Let alone the poor, in case the BJP loses substantial ground among the middle and lower income groups, the Congress would cite this as proof of the backlash against the Modi government’s economic policies. It could arm the Congress to mount an attack on the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Creating credible narratives in electoral politics is undoubtedly important. But Madhya Pradesh’s significance goes far beyond that – it will tell us whether the BJP has the skills to resolve the animosities its own social policies have triggered among its large support base; and whether it can pacify those who have been cut by its economic policies. On the other hand, the fall of the BJP’s impregnable fortress of Madhya Pradesh will recast Congress’ personality into a mould that will have an upper caste polish to it, apart from encouraging its leaders into believing that anti-incumbency has started to work against the BJP and that they have hit upon the right strategy to take advantage of it.




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Fact Check: Fake letters flood social media in poll-bound MP

ith just two days left for polling in Madhya Pradesh, a series of letters claiming “leaks” of internal communications among political parties are circulating on social media.

One such letter allegedly written by Congress candidate Arun Yadav, from Budhni assembly seat, in Sehore district is being widely shared on WhatsApp groups.

According to the letter, Yadav is unhappy after not being allowed to contest from his home seat. Yadav is locked in a pitched electoral battle against Madhya Pradesh’s three-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In the letter, he is criticising MP Congress chief Kamal Nath over ticket distribution. The letter also mentions, “Being a Congress candidate he is facing wrath of people.”

India Today Fact Check found the letter to be fake. There are evidences in the letter which indicates that the letter is fake.

There are several glaring mistakes in the letter. The name of the person to whom the letter is addressed is written on the top, generally. Whereas, in this case, the name of the person writing the letter is on the top while the receiver’s name is at the end.

Secondly, the official address of Congress president Rahul Gandhi according to the Lok Sabha website is 12, Tughlak Lane in New Delhi. In the letter two different addresses namely 10 Janpath and Motilal Nehru Marg are mentioned. Errors like these in official letters of political parties are possible, but not when written by a two time Lok Sabha MP and former state congress president to the party president.

MP Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi told India Today, “The letter is fake. The signature in the viral letter does not match with those of Yadav.”

He has sent us a copy of the letter that Yadav wrote to the Election Commission earlier with his signature. We found the signature is not matching.

Chaturvedi shared with us what he claimed as the official record book of MP Congress unit. It shows the letter with dispatch number 1143/18 was not addressed to the Congress president on November 21. According to his record book, the letter was sent to a person named Santosh Kumar Pandey on August 17. As per Chaturvedi, “Pandey was appointed as the working president of Annupur district.”

A closer look at the signatures also reveals the discrepancies among the two.

Arun Yadav has also tweeted about the “fake letter” and his party has filed a police complaint.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Another letter going viral in Madhya Pradesh, allegedly written by RSS is addressed to Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Rakesh Singh. This letter talks about a “secret survey” undertaken by RSS from November 15-21, 2018, which says BJP is heading for a defeat in the state. According to this survey mentioned in the letter, Congress is strong in 142 seats while BJP is likely to win only 68 seats. The letter also expresses doubts over any impact of Modi and Shah’s campaign on the voters. The letter is signed by one Pramod Namdev whose designation is mentioned as head of “Survey and Janmat” ( Survey evang janmat).

When we checked the website of RSS, we did not find any such designation called “head of survey and janmat”. Few old news reports of 2017 about RSS survey on Gujarat elections are available on the internet but they are mostly based on sources and no concrete evidence of RSS survey is given.

RSS media wing Vishwa Samvad Kendra has issued a statement calling this letter “fake”. It further stated that this has been “circulated mischievously to create confusion for political gains”.

View image on Twitter

RSS spokesperson Ajay Narang reiterated the same. While speaking to India Today he said, “RSS never conducts any political surveys. Moreover, we do not have any ‘survey’ wing as mentioned in the letter.”

Media in-charge of BJP Madhya Pradesh, Lokendra Parasar claimed that the party has filed a complaint in this regard with the election commission. But at the time of filing this report we have not received the complaint copy, even after our repeated requests.

It is possible that RSS has conducted some confidential internal survey about Madhya Pradesh election, but we could not verify independently the authenticity of this particular letter.




Disclaimer: RSS has been taken from their official website.

MP Polls : Digvijaya Singh Sidelined In Madhya Pradesh To Hide Failure: PM Modi

Election in Madhya Pradesh: Digvijaya Singh, who was Madhya Pradesh chief minister from 1993-98, has said that “his party loses votes if he campaigns.”



In an apparent reference to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that one of the senior Congress leaders is not being allowed to campaign for the upcoming assembly elections in the state as the party fears that people will recall the failure of their tenure if Mr Singh campaigns.

Digvijaya Singh, who was Madhya Pradesh chief minister from 1993-98, has said that “his party loses votes if he campaigns.”

Addressing a rally here on Sunday, the Prime Minister said, “One of the senior Congress leaders is not being allowed to campaign during these elections. The reason is that the Congress fears that if he campaigns, the party will lose as people will recall what the fate of Madhya Pradesh was during the time they were in power.”

The Prime Minister also accused the Congress of playing divisive politics and said, “Congress neither has any policy, intention, nor a leader… its leader is confused. Let the naamdar (apparently Congress chief Rahul Gandhi) write down on a piece of paper how many zeroes are there in Rs. 23,000 crore. He will get confused.”

He further asserted that these elections are not about who would win or who won’t win but about rejecting the “negative forces who have always focused on the ‘divide and rule’ approach.”

Talking about the development work in Indore city, the Prime Minister announced that as part of the Smart City project, Rs. 23,000 crore will be spent on development of seven cities in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh including Indore over five years. He added, “In last two years, the foreign tourists’ influx has increased.”

Madhya Pradesh will go to polls on November 28 to elect 230 members of the legislative assembly. The results will be declared on December 11.




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Why MP matters for the Congress

To win a heartland state will improve the Congress’s national standing and its ability to bring together a wider anti-BJP alliance nationally. Gandhi has set the stage for a fierce battle. The outcome will shape national politics.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi kicked off his party’s campaign in Madhya Pradesh’s Malwa-Nimar region on Monday and Tuesday. This is a particularly crucial belt in the state’s politics, for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won 56 of the 66 seats here in the last elections. If the Congress is to displace the BJP from the state, it has to make a dent here. Gandhi, along with state leaders, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, visited the Mahakal temple in Ujjain; addressed public rallies in Ujjain and Jhabua; and did a road show in Indore on Monday. And on Tuesday, he had public meetings in Dhar, Khargone and Mhow.

In all his public utterances, certain themes were common. These are now clearly emerging as an integral part of Gandhi and the Congress’ campaign messages for both the state elections and the 2019 battle. One, he launched a sharp attack on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for siding with rich industrialists, waiving their loans, letting them flee the country, and engaging in corruption and cronyism on Rafale. These allegations were interspersed with the cry of “chowkidar chor hai” (the watchman is a thief), a slogan that Gandhi and the Congress have made their own. This is a high stakes gamble. Modi’s biggest strength has been the electorate’s faith in his intent and integrity; the Congress wants to shatter that. If it works, Rahul will deserve credit for persistence and changing the narrative. But there is an equally high possibility of this backfiring, for there is no evidence to indicate that Modi is today seen as personally corrupt and he could well play the victim card. The second theme in Gandhi’s speech was his claim that as opposed to the BJP, the Congress was for the poor, farmers, Dalits and tribals. The Mandasur killings and agrarian distress have given the Congress ammunition to make this claim. The BJP, however, hopes to neutralise this with its range of both central and state welfare schemes. Gandhi’s third line of attack centred around Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s governance record and “corruption”. Chouhan hit back at a factual inaccuracy in Gandhi’s speech, when the Congress president claimed that the CM’s son was named in the Panama papers.

The larger story emerging from Gandhi’s campaign is how Madhya Pradesh matters to the Congress. In fact, this could well be the most important of the five state elections. It is the largest state going to the polls; the BJP has been in power for 15 years and it is imperative for the Congress to be able to make a comeback to sustain its own party organisation and cadre morale; the state has 29 Lok Sabha seats and success now could translate into success in 2019; to win a heartland state will improve the Congress’s national standing and its ability to bring together a wider anti-BJP alliance nationally. Gandhi has set the stage for a fierce battle. The outcome will shape national politics.



Disclaimer: RSS has been taken from their official website.

MP polls: Rahul Gandhi to begin Malwa tour tomorrow after visit to Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain

Months after BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to the Mahakaleshwar temple in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will on Monday perform a puja at the famous ‘jyotirlinga‘ in Ujjain before embarking on a two-day tour of the BJP-dominated Malwa-Nimar region.

Shah had visited the abode of Lord Shiva on 14 July this year before flagging off the “Jan Ashirwad Yatra” of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The BJP has been accusing Rahul of playing the “soft Hindutva card” to attract the voters in poll-bound states.

During his two-day tour beginning Monday, Rahul will address rallies in Jhabua, Indore, Dhar, Khargone and Mhow and also take part in a road show in Indore.

In Madhya Pradesh, where elections are scheduled to be held on 28 November, the Congress has been struggling to oust the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) from power for the last 15 years.

“During his visit to the Mahakaleshwar temple (one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas‘ of Lord Shiva), Rahul will worship the Lord Mahakal like a common devotee,”

According to a programme released by Congress, Rahul will address public meetings at Ujjain and Jhabua, respectively, after visiting the Mahakal temple.

He is also scheduled to participate in a road show to be organised by the Congress in Indore on Monday evening, and will address a public meeting at Rajwada.

On Tuesday, Rahul will interact with news editors and the business community in two separate programmes at Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. He will later address public meetings at Dhar and Khargone.

On Tuesday evening, the Congress chief would address a public meeting at Mhow after offering tribute at the memorial of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar’s birthplace. Mhow, about 23 kilometres from Indore, is the birthplace of Ambedkar.

Earlier, the Congress had proclaimed Rahul as a “Shiv-bhakt” (a devotee of Lord Shiva) ahead of the assembly elections held in Gujarat last year.

Gandhi began canvassing in Madhya Pradesh last month by offering prayers at the famous Kamta Nath temple in Satna district’s Chitrakoot town.

Meanwhile, the BJP Sunday ridiculed Gandhi for visiting temples in poll-bound states.

Apart from Madhya Pradesh, elections are also scheduled to be held in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan — both currently ruled by the BJP — and the north-eastern state of Mizoram, where the Congress is in power, in the next two months.

BJP national vice-president Prabhat Jha said, “Congress has been making false allegations against BJP about playing religion-based politics. Now, Rahul should answer why he is running to temples ahead of elections?

“The Congress president should also clarify why he and his mother Sonia Gandhi did not visit the Mahakal temple during previous visits,” he said.

Jha alleged that Rahul was trying to mislead people by pretending himself as a religions person for the sake of electoral gains.

When asked about BJP’s criticism, Kapoor said, “Rahul is visiting the Mahakal temple as a devotee of Lord pure sense of devotion. Do the BJP leaders solely reserve the right to worship Lord Shiva? Lord Shiva is for all.”

Kapoor clarified that Rahul’s likely visit to Janapav near Mhow, which is the birthplace of Lord Parshuram, could not materialise due to his busy schedule.




Disclaimer: RSS has been taken from their official website.

Satta market bets big on BJP in MP and Chhattisgarh, Congress in Rajasthan


  • “We are confident that the BJP would make a comeback while scope for the Congress is slim in MP. BJP would also win Chhattisgarh whereas Congress will make a comeback in Rajasthan,” said a bookie
  • Satta market in every election runs in crores. Bets are placed not just over phone, but also on websites and online mobile applications

Whether BJP would form government for the fourth time or Congress will make a comeback after 15 years in Madhya Pradesh?

While a political party may win or lose but the ensuing elections would bring in some extra moolah for bookies in the festive season.

As the parties struggle to finalise candidates, the satta market is already on a high this election season.

If the trend in satta markets is anything to go by, BJP would make a comeback in MP. Bookies are bullish on ruling BJP in the election. The rates in satta market point at the possibility.

As per the bookies, if a person places a bet of Rs 10,000 on BJP, he would get Rs 11,000 in return if the party comes to power while in case of Congress, the stake holder tends to lose Rs 10,000 for placing a bet of Rs 4,400.It means profit is offered more on Congress by punters believing that the party would not be able to make a comeback in this assembly election. Profit margin is low for BJP since bookies believe more people would like to place a bet on BJP.

“We are confident that the BJP would make a comeback while scope for the Congress is slim in MP. BJP would also win Chhattisgarh whereas Congress will make a comeback in Rajasthan. The satta market is running good this poll season. Rates may vary once the tickets are finalised by the parties, but we expect the trend to remain the same,” said a bookie.

Satta market in every election runs in crores. Bets are placed not just over phone, but also on websites and online mobile applications, leaving almost no room for police to nab the bookies and the ones placing the bet.

Probably, this is the reason why no gang has been busted in state so far for running election betting racket. And it is not that people in major cities, including Bhopal are not into betting. At least three cases of betting are registered daily in Bhopal. The craze of betting is more for cricket and it is shifted to politics only during the polls.

Officials said busting an online betting racket is a challenge as such gangs keep moving from one place to another. Online betting can be operated even from a moving car, café or from any public place in the city, state or from any other part of the country.

DIG Dharmendra Choudhary said the police are running special campaigns against criminals involved in gambling and betting ahead of elections. The criminals are being made to sign bonds to prevent them from committing such crimes in the future. He said that crime branch, Bhopal monitors and keeps an eye on online betting. Raids are being conducted on receiving specific tips to nab criminals. Police station level actions were also taken against such illegal betting and gambling dens being operated in the city.
ASP (Crime) Rashmi Mishra said crime branch activated its network of informers in the city prior to elections to keep an eye on illegal activities. She said that it is difficult to crack online betting and gambling rackets, but police take actions against criminals after specific inputs.
Speaking about websites and mobile apps for gambling, IG (Bhopal) Jaideep Prasad said police would act against such rackets on getting specific inputs and complaints. The state cyber cell keeps a constant vigil on such websites and mobile apps and take necessary action, he said.
SP (cyber cell) Bhopal Rajesh Bhadouria said the cyber cell takes action against any criminal activity which falls under the provisions of IT Act. The cyber cell is keeping a constant vigil on cyber-crimes in view of upcoming elections, he said, adding, action is taken on basis of any intelligence or information received on any specific activity.
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Congress discusses candidates for Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh state polls

The assembly polls in Chhattisgarh will be held in two-phases on November 12 and 20 while Madhya Pradesh goes to polls on November 28

The Congress on October 26 discussed names of candidates for Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and second-phase of polling in Chhattisgarh, party sources said.

The Congress Central Election Committee met under Rahul Gandhi late in the evening here and decided names of candidates for a number of seats for the two states but did not make them public.

The assembly polls in Chhattisgarh will be held in two-phases on November 12 and 20 while Madhya Pradesh goes to polls on November 28.




Disclaimer: RSS has been taken from their official website.