Five Factors That Led To BJP’s Downfall In Madhya Pradesh

by M R Subramani - Dec 13, 2018 09:56 AM +05:30 IST
Five Factors That Led To BJP’s Downfall In Madhya PradeshShivraj Singh Chouhan and Narendra Singh Tomar among other BJP leaders in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • Five factors are now being pointed out as the reason for BJP falling short of a majority in the Hindi heartland. We look into each of them.

On 7 November, Swarajya reported that the ground looked slippery for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh in at least 50 seats, when the party initially announced its candidates for 170 seats. Party insiders feared that the BJP was riven with nepotism and favouritism even as it floundered with its choice of candidates.

Five factors are now being pointed out as the reason for BJP falling short of a majority in the Hindi heartland.

One, outgoing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan nominated his own men in the initial list itself.

Second, Narendra Singh Tomar influenced ticket distribution in the Gwalior-Chambal region.

Third, BJP cadres never worked with enthusiasm in this election.

Fourth, the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act amendment by the Union government, which denies bail to the accused, impacted the BJP’s prospects in no small way.

Five, charges of corruption against the state government, too, rubbed the party in the wrong way.

Now, let us look at these factors one by one. The last date for nominations to the Madhya Pradesh assembly was 9 November. Until two days before that, the BJP had given nominations to 170-odd candidates. One of the features of this initial nomination was that Chouhan ensured that the tickets were given to the persons he favoured.

Chouhan ensured that his friends and people from his caste were given the nominations. Most of his caste people who got the nomination were humbled at the hustings. An example of how the outgoing chief minister was responsible for wrong choices is the nomination for the Satna seat.

Despite stiff opposition from its own cadres, the BJP nominated Shankarlal Tiwari, a close friend of Chouhan’s. The result, the party lost the seat by over 12,000 votes.

There are people in the BJP who are upset with the way Tomar had his way in getting his own people and friends nominated. The Gwalior-Chambal region had 34 seats at stake, but, thanks to the wrong choice of candidates, the BJP could win only seven. Party leaders say that the BJP could have easily won 20 seats in the region with the right choice of candidates.

More than these two reasons, though, what went against the BJP was the lack of enthusiasm among its cadres. The Congress was hungry for power after being out of governance in the state for 15 years. While Congress cadre ensured to bring its supporters to the polling booth, the BJP cadre didn’t do anything to get its voters to the booth.

A great example of how a lack of enthusiasm among its cadres affected the BJP’s chances is the result in Gwalior south. In that constituency, the BJP lost by a meagre 121 votes. There were instances where the BJP cadre even voted for the Congress to ensure their party candidates’ defeat.

The cadres were disillusioned because the state leadership and ministers ignored them during these 15 years of rule. Neither were things brought to the leadership’s notice done nor did the cadre get any benefit.

There were many posts that the BJP leadership in Madhya Pradesh could have filled with its cadres to boost their morale. But that never happened. The cadre quote the fine example that Sunderlal Patwa set when he became chief minister. Patwa entrusted many responsibilities to the cadre and that, in a way, helped the party grow strong roots in the state.

In contrast, Chouhan ignored the cadre and wouldn’t even want to talk to them. During the elections, some of the leaders never asked the cadre to go out and work for the party’s victory.

The Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act amendment early this year affected the BJP’s prospects in quite a few states. In fact, the Congress reaped gains from the disenchantment of the upper castes, particularly in the Gwalior-Chambal region. Chouhan’s comments in support of reservation, saying nobody can end it, too, worked against the BJP.

Though nothing happened on the allegation in the Vyapam scam, in which medical entrance examination and medical college admission and recruitment were manipulated, there were other charges against the outgoing BJP ministers. The BJP leaders allegedly gave indirect support to the sand and stone mafia and this alienated the party cadre.

The verdict is seen as a vote against the senior leaders in the state and not against the BJP. The way forward for the BJP will be to bring in new and young leaders. Most of the leaders now in the party have been serving for the last 25-odd years. As a result, the party had not looked inwards to cultivate a new and young leader.

The Congress, on the other hand, used Jyotiraditya Scindia to attract youngsters while using the experience of Kamal Nath, who will likely be elected chief minister, to fight the elections. The BJP will also have to call the bluff of the opposition parties, blaming the centre for nothing. More than that, the cadre thinks the Congress’ double game of running with the hare and hunting with the hound on the SC/ST Atrocities Amendment Act should be exposed.

The Congress was among the first to protest against the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the provisions in the Act to arrest a person on a non-bailable offence. It was even behind the protests against this. But in the Gwalior-Chambal region, the Congress went hammer and tongs against the BJP for the amendment in the Act to overcome the Supreme ruling. These acts went unchallenged, point out insiders.

The BJP will now have to start work for the 2019 Lok Sabha election right away, taking the cadre into confidence. It will have to hear them out and find a way to reap the maximum support that Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys among the people in the state. And the cadres are looking towards the leadership to hold some of the senior leaders for the mess the party currently is in Madhya Pradesh.

Also, the Madhya Pradesh election results are seen as a vote against the incumbent government than any positive vote of confidence for the Congress. “Had there been a third force in the state, people would have opted for that,” says a party leader not wanting to identify himself.

Also Read:

After Drubbing, Modi And Shah Need To Rework Plan 2019. And, Yes, Humility Would Help.

Assembly Elections 2018: Did NOTA Defeat The BJP?

Time For Changes: Some Overwhelming, Some Hyperlocal

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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