The Scindia Factor: How BJP Crushed Congress To Win Madhya Pradesh

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The Scindia Factor: How BJP Crushed Congress To Win Madhya Pradesh

Jyotiraditya Scindia was a Congress MP from Guna but shifted to the BJP in 2020 (File).

New Delhi:

The BJP has swept the Madhya Pradesh Assembly election, brushing aside the challenge of a Congress party that hoped fervently to mount a comeback in a state it won in 2018 but was ousted from in 2020. At 2 pm the BJP is ahead in 161 seats and the Congress in 66. These numbers represent a staggering gain of 52 seats for the BJP and a loss of 48 for the Congress, relative to the 2018 results.

Then Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s government fell after Jyotiraditya Scindia‘s revolt; the now Union Aviation Minister led 22 Congress MLAs into the BJP, leaving his former party sharply in the minority.

A big reason for the Congress’ 2018 win – by 114 to 109 – was its performance in Mr Scindia’s stronghold – the Chambal-Gwalior region. The party won 26 of 34 seats on offer to flip the results of the past two elections; it won 12 seats in 2013 and 13 in 2008, compared to the BJP’s 20 and 16.

READ | BJP Heads For Dominant Win In Madhya Pradesh, Stuns Congress

However, with the former Guna Lok Sabha MP crossing over to the BJP, there was a real potential for the ruling party to recoup some of its losses from five years ago. And that seems to have transpired.

The Chambal-Gwalior region has eight districts. Five of these – Gwalior, Shivpuri, Datia, Ashoknagar, and Guna – are in the Gwalior region, and three – Morena, Bhind, and Sheopur – are in the other.

All these areas were part of former Gwalior kingdom and Mr Scindia is part of that royal family.

2018 vs 2023 Election: Chambal Region

In 2018, of the 13 seats in the Chambal region, the Congress won 10 – Sheopur, Sabalgarh, Joura, Sumawali, Morena, Dimani, Ambah, Lahar, Mehgaon and Gohad.

The BJP won Vijaypur and Ater, and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party nicked Bhind.

Fast-forward to today, and the Congress’ rivals have flipped at least three – Sabalgarh, Lahar and Mehgaon, while the BSP seems to have stolen two – Sumawali and Dimani. That said, the Congress has, in turn, flipped Ater and Vijaypur – seats the BJP won, and the BSP might lose Bhind to the BJP.

2018 vs 2023 Election: Gwalior Region

Over in Gwalior, there 21 seats, including four in Guna, which was Jyotiraditya Scindia’s Lok Sabha constituency from 2002 to 2014. It was also the Scindia bastion, with a family member holding the seat from 1971 till the BJP’s Krishna Pal Yadav snatched it away in the last general election.

The Congress won all but five of these seats; the BJP only picked up the Guna Assembly constituency in Guna district, Kolaras and Shivpuri in Shivpuri district, Datia in Datia district, and Gwalior (rural).

Five years on – with Mr Scindia firmly in the BJP camp – the saffron party is on course for a near-clean sweep of Gwalior; it is likely to hold on to the Gwalior (rural) seat and flip Gwalior (east) and Gwalior (south), as well as Gwalior City and Bhitarwar. Only Dabra seems like it will stay with the Congress.

The Congress won two of Datia district’s three seats in 2018 – Sewda and Bhander – with Datia town going to the BJP, which today is set to flip Sewda. It does, however, seem like it will lose the other two.

In Shivpuri, the Congress won Karera, Pohari, and Pichhore in 2018, with Shivpuri town and Kolaras going to the BJP. In this election, so far, the Congress seems to be retaining Karera and Pohari.

The BJP is leading in Pichhore, and on course to retain Shivpuri and Kolaras.

In Guna, the Congress looks like it will retain Bamori and Raghogarh, but will lose Chachoura.

Finally, in Ashoknagar, the Congress recorded a 3-0 clean sweep in the 2018 election. In 2023, the party might lose Chanderi while retaining Mungaoli and Ashoknagar.

Rest Of Madhya Pradesh

With 34 seats, the Chambal-Gwalior region has more than 10 per cent of the state’s 230 and, as such, it is widely viewed as an indicator of which party is likely to win an election.

There are still 196 other seats on offer though, with the bellwether being the Malwa region that the Congress edged five years ago. Of the 88 seats there, the party won 45 in 2018 and the BJP 40.

In this election, the numbers are starkly reversed; the BJP is leading in 65 seats in Malwa.

What Jyotiraditya Scindia Said

In his first comment after the BJP’s mega win became evident, Mr Scindia responded to a jab taken by Congress leader, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra about his height, although he did not name his ex-colleague. “Someone spoke about my height (but) people of Gwalior-Malwa have shown how tall they are.”

READ | Jyotiratidya Scindia Claps Back At Priyanka Gandhi Over “Height” Jibe

Mr Scindia also told NDTV he had always been confident of a BJP win. “I had said BJP will win. I want to thank Madhya Pradesh voters who have given us this big majority. Prime Minister Modi’s leadership worked and so did guidance of (Union Home Minister) Amit Shah and (BJP president) JP Nadda.”

What Shivraj Chouhan Said

The election has not been officially declared as yet but the scale of the BJP’s lead makes that a mere formality. Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, in line to become a five-time leader of the state, has attributed the BJP’s win to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – an astute move, some might say, given tension with the party’s central leaders after he was not publicly backed as the face of the campaign.

READ | 4-Time Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan Explains BJP’s Madhya Pradesh Win, Again

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the hearts of the people of Madhya Pradesh. The work done by the double-engine government, whether in the Centre or the state, such as the Ladli scheme, has helped uplift people and improve their lives. All of us have worked hard together,” he told NDTV.

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