The counting of votes for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections lasted for more than 24 hours over Tuesday and Wednesday, but the issue of choosing the next chief minister (CM) was sorted out in a couple.
MP Congress media in-charge Shobha Ojha declared on Wednesday evening that the newly elected members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) had unanimously chosen their leader. Though she did not reveal the name, sources said the state party chief Kamal Nath--who has earlier served as a Union minister--would be the next chief minister of the state.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has served as CM for three terms, accepted responsibility for the BJP’s loss and submitted his resignation to Governor Anandiben Patel. “Party workers worked hard, people also gave their love to us but we are short of numbers despite getting more votes. I have congratulated Kamal Nathji,” he said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi has sent former Union defence minister A K Antony as an observer to meet the MLAs.
The see-saw battle of the ballot ended on Wednesday morning, with the Congress emerging as the single-largest party, with 114 seats. It fell short of the majority mark of 116 seats in the 230-member Assembly. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party, with two seats and one, respectively, have already pledged support to the Congress.
As the results were released by the Election Commission of India, a delegation led by Kamal Nath arrived at the Raj Bhavan to stake claim to form the government. He was accompanied by Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was the other claimant for the CM’s job.
Scindia said, “It will be a privilege if given the chance to become CM of Madhya Pradesh.”
At the meeting, however, Arif Aqueel proposed Kamal Nath’s name, and former CM Digvijay Singh seconded the proposal, said sources. The state’s Congress leadership wants to ensure that the swearing-in of the new Cabinet is completed by Friday.
This is the first time that no one party or coalition managed to secure the majority in the state Assembly. The Bharitiya Janata Party (BJP) was voted out of power, winning 109 seats.
For the Congress, too, victory was not without setbacks. Its performance in the Vindhya region — where it expected to do very well — left a lot to be desired.
The region has 30 Assembly seats. This time, the Congress won six — five less than its tally of 11 in the last state election in 2013. The BJP improved its score from 17 seats in 2013 to 24 this time.
The Congress had deputed Ajay Singh, who was the Leader of the Opposition, to steer the campaign in the region. A chopper was also arranged for him. But all of it came to a naught. Singh also lost his traditional Churhat seat.
The area is traditionally a BSP stronghold, but it seems its voters switched loyalty to the BJP this time. The party’s performance was boosted by schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana and Jankalyan Sambal Yojana.