New Delhi: The Congress has unseated the Bharatiya Janata Party from three key states in the Hindi heartland – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – in the assembly elections months before the Lok Sabha election is scheduled to be held. This has thrown open the electoral field for the opposition before the general election, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP had been dominating for the last five years beginning from landslide victories in these three states.
In Telangana, the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana Rashtriya Samithi won a thumping majority, while in Mizoram, the Zoramthanga-led Mizo National Front defeated the incumbent Congress with a handsome margin.
The wins in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan couldn’t have come for the Congress in a better time as it was exactly a year ago on this day Rahul Gandhi was elected as the president of the party, taking over from his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Chhattisgarh was a major surprise for the pollsters, who predicted a tough fight between the Congress and the incumbent Raman Singh-led BJP. In the state, Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (Jogi) alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party was expected to eat into both the Congress’s and the BJP’s vote shares. However, that didn’t seem to happen. In the 90-seat assembly, the Congress won thumbs down in the election with 68 seats while the BJP got 15 seats. The Mayawati-Jogi alliance got seven seats.
Madhya Pradesh sprang a surprise as pollsters predicted an outright Congress victory over the incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s BJP government. However, that was not to be. The BJP put up a tough fight and the Congress fell just short of majority in the 230-seat assembly. Votes were counted until early in Wednesday morning. Finally, at around 8.45am, the Election Commission declared the final results. The Congress won 114 seats and the BJP won 109. The BSP won two seats while others won five. Mayawati, with BSP’s two seats, declared her support to the Congress, which makes the alliance touch the majority mark of 116 seats.
Although it was predicted that the Congress would win a landslide in Rajasthan, the incumbent Vasundhara Raje-led BJP put up a tough fight and was neck and neck with the Congress until the Grand Old Party surged ahead and managed to get 99 seats out of the 199 that went to the polls. The BJP got 73 seats and the BSP got six seats. Others, which included rebels from both the Congress and the BJP, got 21 seats. With its allies, the Congress, despite falling one short of the majority will form the government in the state.
Meanwhile in Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao’s TRS not just retained power in the newly formed state but retained it with style. In the 119 seats that went to the polls, the TRS won a landslide 88 seats while the Congress won 19 seats. The BJP won just one seat in the state while others won 11. The result reflects the total faith of the people of the state on KCR’s governance, which saw many innovative schemes being launched for the people in the last five years.
Mizoram, the only Congress-held state in the northeast, slipped out of the party’s hands with Joramthanga’s Mizo National Front won a thumping majority in the state. In the 40-seat assembly, the MNF won 26 seats while the Lal Thanhawla-led Congress won five seats. The BJP won just one seat while others won eight.
The assembly election results in the five state are as follows:
Chhattisgarh | Total seats 90 | Majority 46
Madhya Pradesh | Total seats 230 | Majority 116
Rajasthan | Total seats 199 | Majority 100
Telangana | Total seats 119 | Majority 60
Mizoram | Total seats 40 | Majority 21
Despite the losses in the five assembly elections, especially in the Hindi heartland, the BJP still remains a formidable political party with Prime Minister Modi being a popular leader across the country. However, the loss of the three key states that it held so close to the Lok Sabha election is seen as a major setback to the party. The Modi-propelled BJP had won a whopping 62 out of the 65 Lok Sabha seats from the three states in the 2014 general election.
With a resurgent Congress under a new Rahul Gandhi, who has shown the knack to form quick political alliances even with sacrifices, like extending the chief minister’s post to HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka in May this year, Modi’s BJP has more than a fight in its hands in next year’s Lok Sabha election.