New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh promises to be a tough play for both Congress as well the BJP. While leaders from both the parties are claiming an upper hand ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, one look at the poll issues and voter sentiments give an observer a different picture altogether. Before talking about 2019 polls let's analyse the voting pattern in 2014 polls.

In 2014 Parliamentary elections, it was advantage BJP in Madhya Pradesh as the saffron party won 27 seats while Congress got 2 seats.

The grand old party, however, managed to dislodge the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government, which has been in power in the state from the past 15 years, in the recently concluded state Assembly elections. However, both parties failed to get the majority. The Congress emerged as the largest party with 114 seats and the BJP won 109. The analysis also showed that the BJP was popular among voters and received 41 per cent of the total votes polled. Also, the saffron party lost 7 seats with a margin less than 1000.

Under 15 years of BJP tenure, the state has witnessed a revival of sorts of brand Hindutva powered by Shivraj Singh Chouhan who is known for his “soft Hindutva approach”.

The reach and widespread appeal of this brand of Hindutva are such strong factors that even the Kamal Nath-led Congress government is forced to mimic the BJP, thereby being accused by social observers of being a B-team of the saffron party.

During Kamal Nath’s first 100 days of governance, many decisions taken by him raised eyebrows. From opening a thousand cow shelters for the abandoned cattle over the next four months as mentioned in the manifesto to his decision to stop the mass singing of Vande Mataram outside the state secretariat, Nath has shown that Hindutva is just a ploy to target voters and nothing else.

Employment is one of the biggest issues for voters in Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh. A survey by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows that for 61.91 per cent voters, better employment opportunities carry more importance compared to agriculture, corruption or terrorism. However, for rural voters matters like agriculture and better support price for their farm produce are something which matters. The BJP has also accused the Congress of betraying peasants in the name of farm loan waivers as only crop loan of farmers who defaulted will be waived but in their poll manifesto, the Congress had given an impression that all farmers will get waivers. 

Better health care, electricity for agricultural purposes and better law and order are some of the

With the entry of Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh the fight for Bhopal has turned interesting. While Singh has publicly said that he would have preferred to contest from his home turf Rajgarh but had accepted the party’s decision. Bhopal is a BJP stronghold and the Congress has not registered a victory from this seat since 1984.

Better employment opportunities, better hospitals and primary health centres, clean water, good roads, better public transport, availability of water for agriculture, availability of agricultural credit, better prices of agricultural products, fertilizer, are some of the biggest electoral issues in the state.

Unemployment is one of the biggest issues in Chhattisgarh for the urban voters and polls will revolve around them and tribal welfare policies. According to a survey by the Association for Democratic Reform (ADR), minimum support price for farm produce and tribal welfares will dominate the elections.

As per the ADR report further states that the previous BJP-led Raman Singh government performed poorly in all the key areas including employment, public transport, agricultural infrastructure and law and order.

In rural areas availability of water and electricity for agriculture remains one of the key issues.

In the state Assembly elections BJP got 15 seats while the Congress received 68. Going by the available trends it will be hard for the saffron party to make a comeback. Also, Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC) announcement of not contesting Lok Sabha elections has shocked the BJP as the JCC was likely to eat into Congress vote share.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha battle, the BJP had got 10 seats, while the Congress received only one seat. Now, after winning the state assembly elections the Congress is likely to increase its tally.

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