Kamal Nath (Left), Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Right)
Five months ago, the Congress – under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi – wrested the Hindi heartland state of Madhya Pradesh from the BJP, which ruled the state for 15 years.
Analysts say that by and large farmers voted for the Congress, and the loan waiver announced by president Rahul Gandhi before the state election proved to be a game-changer for his party.
Going by numbers and vote share in the November 2018 assembly polls, Congress appears to have an edge over its rivals on the six seats Sidhi, Mandla, Balaghat, Chhindwara, Shahdol and Jabalpur. Of these, five were won by BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
However, the exit polls have predicted in favour of the saffron party. According to the forecast, the BJP is likely to win 23 of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state while the Congress may win the remaining six.
The time, the one-on-one contest between the Congress and the BJP has turned into a triangular fight with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party deciding to forge an alliance in the state.
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh will look to repeat its performance in the state in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
However, parliamentary and assembly polls have different dynamics and the BJP is expecting a wave similar to 2014 in its favour to sweep the state.
BJP has a strong history of high performance in Madhya Pradesh since 1991 and the only exception was 2009 when the seat tally and vote percentage difference was close between both the major political parties.
What happened in 2014 Lok Sabha polls
There are 29 parliamentary seats in MP, of which 27 were won by the BJP and two by Congress in 2014. Later in by-poll, one more seat (Ratlam) was won by Congress increasing its tally to three.
The BJP received 1,60,15,695 votes with a whopping vote share of 54.8 per cent. The Congress managed to win only 2 seats in the state and received 1,03,40,274 votes with a vote share of 35.3 per cent. Only Kamal Nath from Chhindwara and Jyotiraditya Scindia from Guna were able to emerge victorious from the party in the state. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got 3.8 per cent of the total votes polled in the state.
What happened in 2009 Lok Sabha polls
After a tough competition between BJP and Congress, the BJP managed to win 16 seats and garnered 43.4 per cent vote share. The Congress won 12 seats with 40.1 vote share voting percentage. BSP got one seat of Rewa and 5.9 per cent votes.
The BJP managed to retain the seats of Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Sidhi, Jabalpur, Balaghat, Vidisha, Bhopal, Indore, Khargone and Betul.
What happened in 2004 Lok Sabha polls
This was the first general election held in the state after the division. The result was a major victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which won 25 seats. The remaining 4 seats were won by Indian National Congress (INC).
What happened in 1999 Lok Sabha polls
Even in the 1999 general elections, BJP won more seats than Congress, i.e. 29 and 46.6 per cent voting percentage. INC could manage to win 11 seats in total and 43.9 per cent votes.
After 1999, in the year 2000, Madhya Pradesh was divided and Chhattisgarh was formed, as a result of which Madhya Pradesh lost some of the parliamentary seats, and it has 29 seats now.