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Assembly polls 2018: Agrarian distress dents BJP vote share, Congress gains

In the Assembly election results 2018, the BJP seems to have suffered heavy losses in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, while it is a close call between it and Congress in Madhya Pradesh

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Congress Party worker celebrate as initial trends show the party leading in the states Assembly elections, at Congress office, in New Delhi
Congress Party worker celebrate as initial trends show the party leading in the states Assembly elections, at Congress office, in New Delhi

The Narendra Modi government had in 2014 promised reforms. It had also committed to creating jobs and doubling farm incomes. However, the Modi government failed to walk its talk.

A jibe from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in the last week of January 2015 that Modi’s was a ‘suit boot ki sarkar’ (a government of and for moneybags) — over the government’s land acquisition Bill — and a defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls in February 2015, made the Modi government take refuge in the comfort of plucking low-hanging fruits.

It expended its energies in widening the net of poor who get subsidised cooking gas, claimed it has constructed more roads, also claimed to have ensured power supply to more homes and launched an ambitious housing scheme for urban and rural poor. Rather euphemistically, the Modi government termed it ‘garib kalyan’, or welfare of the poor, which also included a crop insurance and health insurance schemes.

At the same time, the Modi government largely ignored taking any steps to alleviate agrarian distress and was tightfisted in its Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) allocations.

Moreover, Prime Minister Modi fell victim to the tall claims he had made about ending black money, which motivated him to announce the ill-advised demonetisation on November 8, 2016. The win in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls in March 2017 emboldened Modi to unleash a hurriedly-put-together goods and services tax (GST) regime on July 1, 2017.

ALSO READ: Election results LIVE: Big day for Rahul; Cong leads in CG, Rajasthan, MP

Tuesday’s election results are as much a vote against BJP’s local leaderships in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, as against the Modi government’s policies.

Demonetisation destroyed livelihoods in the informal sector and sucked money out of the rural economy, and GST added to the burden of the common man. There were fewer jobs in the informal sector, as also in the real estate sector, while farmers did not get their due for their produce.

On June 6, 2017, police in Madhya Pradesh killed six farmers. It sparked farmer protests across India. The Modi government pointed at fiscal discipline to rule out a farm loan waiver, and now it seems to be facing the brunt of farmers’ anger in the Assembly polls.

Madhya Pradesh (230 seats)

At the time of filing of this report, the Congress was leading the BJP in a close contest in Madhya Pradesh. According to the Election Commission website, the BJP was ahead in terms of vote share but the percentage had dropped from 2014. At 12 noon, BJP had 41.8 per cent vote share, while the Congress had 41.3 per cent. ALSO READ: Chhattisgarh, MP election result LIVE: Congress ahead in CG, BJP in MP

Compare this with 2013 Assembly poll results, when the BJP had swept the polls:

Rajasthan (200 seats; elections held for 199 in 2018)

In Rajasthan, the Congress was expected to outperform BJP, but the Election Commission website suggested that its failure to strike alliances could cost the Congress.

It could still cross the halfway mark of 100 seats, and form the government, but smaller parties have also accounted for decent vote shares.

The newly formed Rashtriya Loktantrik Party seems to have hurt the Congress in the Nagaur belt, where the party is leading on four seats. The CPI(M) is also leading on two seats and currently has a vote share of 5.4 per cent, even as it is contesting on only 28 seats.

ALSO READ: Rajasthan election result 2018 LIVE: Congress ahead; BJP gives tough fight

In Rajasthan, both BJP and Congress had an equal vote share of 38.4 per cent each, again underlining the need for the Congress to strike alliances that are more effective.

Telangana (119 seats)

The K Chandrashekar Rao government in Telangana responded positively to agrarian distress, and his government’s social welfare schemes were highly effective. The farmers’ income support scheme and other welfare schemes seem to have helped the Telangana Rashtra Samiti sweep the polls.

According to the Election Commission website, the TRS was leading in Telangana with a vote share of 48.2 per cent, while the Congress managed a bit over 28 per cent. The TRS seems to be improving its vote share over 2014 Assembly polls, and its gambit of advancing the Assembly polls by six months seems have paid off.

ALSO READ: Telangana Election result 2018 LIVE: KCR's magic works for TRS, Owaisi wins

Chhattisgarh (Total seats 90)

The BJP scored a narrow win in Chhattisgarh in 2013. However, this time the Congress seems headed for a sweep. The Bahujan Samaj Party-Ajit Jogi alliance seems to have hurt the BJP more than it did the Congress. Currently, the Congress is ahead in over 50 of the 90 Assembly seats and has a vote share of 43.8 per cent against the BJP’s 31.8 per cent. The Jogi-BSP alliance has 8.7 per cent votes.

Mizoram (40 seats)

In Mizoram, the Mizo National Front looks headed to form the government. It is currently leading on 20 seats, while the Congress is leading on 5. The MNF currently has 38.5 percent votes, while the Congress has 30.4 per cent votes. The Congress had run the government for 10 years in the state.

First Published: Tue, December 11 2018. 12:56 IST