Congress Left with Zero Seat in Historic Repeat of 1984: What Led BJP to Dominate with 59.26% Vote Share in Madhya Pradesh

Pic courtesy

Huneza Khan,

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has upheld its claim by winning all 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, becoming the only major state where the saffron party has achieved a remarkable 59.26% vote share. The Congress party secured 32.44% of the vote but failed to get any seats. While the rest of India rejected aggressive Hindutva politics, Madhya Pradesh embraced it wholeheartedly. This mandate echoes the 1984 landslide victory when the Indian National Congress won all 40 seats in undivided Madhya Pradesh.

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In the 2019 general elections, the BJP had secured 28 out of 29 Lok Sabha constituencies. This time, the saffron party penetrated the Congress stronghold of Chhindwara, where BJP candidate Vivek Banti Sahu defeated sitting MP Nakulnath by 1.13 lakh votes. State’s former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh also lost his native constituency, Rajgarh, by 1.46 lakh votes.

Nationally, the BJP secured 240 seats with a 36.6% vote share, a slight drop from 37.3% (303 seats) in the 2019 general elections. Meanwhile, the Congress-led INDIA alliance won 234 seats, securing 41.09% of the national vote share. Despite not reaching the magic number of 272, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will form a government with the support of its allies — Andhra Pradesh’s Telgu Desam Party (TDP) headed by Chandrababu Naidu and Bihar’s Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, which secured 16 and 12 seats respectively. Narendra Modi will be sworn in as the Prime Minister of India for a third consecutive term.

Religious ‘Polarisation’, ‘Misuse’ of Administrative Tools

Ravi Parmar of the NSUI (National Students’ Union of India — the student wing of the Congress party) accused the BJP of polarizing politics in Madhya Pradesh, alleging that saffron party leaders who defected from the Congress damaged the grassroots cadre through coercion or monetary inducements.

He highlighted the alleged misuse of the administration and the Election Commission (EC) in favor of the BJP and criticized the religion-based campaign, particularly focusing on the Ram Mandir issue.

“Complaints were lodged with the EC, but no action was taken. Local issues failed to influence the public as the election campaign in Madhya Pradesh was entirely religion-based. The early phases saw relatively low voter turnout. The BJP’s campaign vehicles played songs like ‘Ram Ko Jo Laye Hain, Hum Unko Layenge’ (We will bring those who brought Ram). They misused the administration by mobilizing government employees and engaged in booth capturing through ASHA and Anganwadi workers who connected with the public through individuals who possessed all relevant information,” said Parmar.

He noted attempts to frame the Congress as a Muslim-only party. “State President Jeetu Patwari continued to hold public meetings, while Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Digvijaya Singh also addressed the public. In Indore, our candidate was taken away in a vehicle by BJP workers to withdraw their nomination,” commented Parmar.

There was a continuous defection of Congress workers and leaders to join the BJP. Soon after Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ (Unite India March) in Madhya Pradesh, former Union Minister Suresh Pachouri, along with other Congress leaders in the state, switched loyalties to the BJP. This included former MLAs and MPs. In another blow to the Congress, Amarwara MLA Kamlesh Shah defected to join the BJP.

The BJP gained a lead of more than 15,000 votes from Shah’s seat, where the Congress had been ahead by 22,000 votes in the last election. Former MLA Deepak Saksena also joined the BJP, which resulted in a lead of 13,000 votes from his area, a significant shift from the 15,000-vote lead the Congress had in 2019.

Weak Campaign

Rajesh Shukla of Bhopal criticized the Congress for its failed election campaign, contrasting it with the BJP’s meticulous preparation over two years. He pointed out that the BJP actively engaged in meetings with booth-level workers and maintained momentum even after the state assembly elections. In contrast, the Congress faced internal challenges, including changes in state leadership and the uncertainty surrounding Kamal Nath’s potential defection to the BJP.

“These crises left Congress workers disillusioned as the top leadership seemed disinterested in campaigning. While BJP leaders actively connected with voters in villages and towns, the Congress lagged behind in candidate announcements, introducing them only a day before nomination — leaving little time for engagement. The absence of effective grassroots management like ‘Panna Pramukh’ (incharge of electoral rolls) and booth-level management in the Congress campaign deviated from the BJP’s careful approach even for single-seat victories, ultimately weakening the Congress,” concluded Shukla.

The BJP claimed that over 16,000 Congress leaders and workers joined their party since March 21. The grand old party denied the claims, putting the figure at 600.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed five public meetings, while Priyanka Gandhi addressed one. Congress National President Mallikarjun Kharge made only one public address, and Jeetu Patwari conducted 130 meetings in the state.

On the contrary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did two roadshows and eight public meetings. Union Minister Amit Shah carried out a roadshow in Chhindwara and addressed five public meetings in other areas. BJP’s national president, J. P. Nadda, held two meetings and seven public meetings. BJP’s Chief Minister Dr Mohan Yadav campaigned across all 29 seats in the state. Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan addressed 66 meetings in key seats.

Political Laboratory of BJP

In 2004, the BJP organized a convention for representatives who had won in Madhya Pradesh’s civic body elections. The party’s national president, Lal Krishna Advani, attended the function on December 5. What he said that day proved to be a milestone in many years.

“Madhya Pradesh is a political laboratory for the Janata Party. The party keeps experimenting continuously to see whether it can take its ideology to the next level here,” he said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in October 2023 claimed that Advani wrote a book in which he stated that the original laboratory of BJP-RSS was not in Gujarat but in Madhya Pradesh.

BJP’s propaganda, social media campaigns and effective booth-level management left the Congress struggling to keep up. Disheartened by their earlier loss in the state assembly elections, the Congress failed to boost morale or make a plan to improve the on-ground situation.

Meanwhile, the BJP worked with relentless energy, ensuring their strategies were effectively implemented.

The sweeping victory of the BJP in the state signals a continued embrace of its Hindutva ideology and strategic nerve. The saffron party’s dominance suggests a saffronised future for the state with a firm grip on all 29 seats. The Congress, on the other hand, faces a significant challenge to rebuild its base and counter the BJP’s well-oiled machinery.