Ahead of Lok Sabha Elections in early 2019, the acid test for Mr Narendra Modi are the upcoming elections in MP, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh. My grandparents have lived in MP for many years and I have had chance to visit the State a few times. It is therefore interesting for me to assess the wave in MP ahead of the elections. I am sharing below my thoughts and findings based on some discussions and readings :
Meaningful development has taken place in MP during Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s 15-year tenure as the Chief Minister of the state. People are fond of him and dotingly call him Mamaji.
Substantial progress has happened in road infrastructure, with assured regular water/power supply, better health facilities and numerous benefits for the poor (subsidies/benefits on food, fertilizers, seeds, crops, healthcare, electricity, transport, tractors, jobs, etc.). Government (BJP) policies are pro-poor and it is spending a sizeable amount on rural development – this is paying off as nearly 72% of MP’s population resides in rural areas and 55% is dependent on agriculture. As much as 32% of the population in MP is below the poverty line (BPL).
Many investor meets were organised by Mr Shivraj Chauhan but new private sector investment has been lukewarm. Agriculture has seen significant progress seen whereas growth in industry has lagged behind services sector.
Political analysts have been making road trips to MP to get an idea of the election mood. Their observations are
- BJP is facing anti-incumbency,
- A section of people (daily wagers, businessmen, and traders) are disappointed due to lack of jobs, GST, demonetisation.
- Lack of cash payments and the additional layers to receive benefits is a source of dissatisfaction.
The stage is getting ready for a close Competition between BJP and Congress with the latter predominantly fighting on employment issues.
- In 2013, of the 117 seats, BJP won 72 seats and Congress 40
- 48 seats (28 – BJP, 16 -Congress, 3 – BSP) are crucial due to their thin margins of less than 5,000 votes.
- In the 2013 elections, votes of the Underprivileged were distributed almost equally between the BJP and Congress (at 44%). In 2018, these votes could swing the outcome.
- In 2013, the upper/middle/lower classes had favoured the BJP over Congress.
- 2013 saw Scheduled Caste (SC) votes getting split three ways : BJP, INC and BSP. However, BJP managed to win 28/35 SC seats. This time, any swing in SC votes could lead to a decrease in BJP’s seats.
- People are likely to give greater weightage to candidates and the work done by them in the last 5 years..