Madhya Pradesh exit polls show BJP, Congress in dead heat

Madhya Pradesh elections exit polls: The two main parties contesting elections in the state are BJP, which has been in power for 15 years with Shivraj Singh Chouhan as chief minister, and Congress, which is hoping to come back to power in the state which was once its bastion.

The BJP and the Congress are in a neck and neck race in Madhya Pradesh, according to exit polls which predicted results for the centrally located state of the country that cast its votes on November 28.

A poll conducted by Axis My India-India Today and Aaj Tak predicts a range of 102-120 seats for the BJP, seeking a fourth straight term in Madhya Pradesh and 104 -122 for the Congress. But a Times Now- CNX survey predicts a clear majority for the BJP with 126 seats, while it gives the Congress 89 seats, a marked improvement over its tally in the last election but still trailing the BJP.

India TV poll gives BJP 122-130 seats against its 165 it won in 2013 and Congress 86-92 seats as opposed to its 58 in 2013. The Republic Jan Ki Baat survey predicts 108-128 seats for the BJP and 95 -111 for the Congress.

Madhya Pradesh has 230 seats and the majority mark for a party to win is 116.

The BJP has been in power for the last 15 years with Shivraj Singh Chouhan as chief minister, and the Congress hoping to come back to power in the state which was once its bastion.

Madhya Pradesh is important for both the parties — the Congress and BJP — since it sends 29 members to the Lok Sabha. The state is important since its development indicators shape development indicators nationally. The state’s preferences in this election will decide the future trajectories of both national parties.

Even though Shivraj Singh Chouhan, by all standards a popular chief minister in the state, has made tangible improvements in governance, the BJP which has been in power for the last 15 years is facing triple anti-incumbency.

For the Congress on the other hand, the stakes could never be higher in any state other than they are in Madhya Pradesh. Since independence, the state has always been a Congress state, except for three short stints — in the late 1960s, post Emergency and in the early 1990s. However, the last 15 years have been the longest that the party has been out of power in the state.

In this election, the Congress, looking to come back to power, has focussed its campaign in the state on agrarian failures of the Chouhan government and the economic mismanagement of the Centre. It is also a test of Rahul Gandhi’s reputation as a leader.

The BJP is looking to retain power in the state under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan who has been the state’s chief minister since 2003. Congress, banking on anti-incumbency, is looking to replace the BJP in the state and has fielded former union minister Arun Yadav against Chouhan.

The other parties that are contesting the elections are the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The BSP has fielded 227 candidates in the state while SP and AAP have fielded 51 and 208 candidates respectively.

Madhya Pradesh has a total seats of 230 assembly seats. To form a government in the state, any party must win 116 seats. In the previous election in the state, held in 2013, the BJP had won 165 sets with the Congress winning 58 seats.

During the election campaigning, Rahul Gandhi addressed 21 rallies in the state while BJP chief Amit Shah addressed 25 rallies. While Rahul Gandhi raised the issues of corruption, farmers deaths, unempoyment, black money and the Rafale deal, Shah promoted the work done by Chouhan and listed out his achievements saying that the CM had increased the state’s budget, helped raise literacy levels, per capita income, employment etc.

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