The results of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh were headed for a photo finish, with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress running neck and neck.
Till 11:15 pm on Tuesday, the Congress was leading in 114 seats, the BJP in 109. Both have got an almost equal vote share of about 41 per cent. Post-poll predictions had forecast a close race.
While the Congress performed well in Mahakoshal, Malwa-Nimar and central MP, its performance in the Vindhya region was disappointing. The BJP looks like it might lose over 50 seats.
Incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had established a decisive lead of 43,690 votes over his nearest rival Arun Yadav of Congress in Budhni Assembly seat.
Leader of Opposiion Ajay Singh was trailing from his traditional Churhat seat. But, many young candidates of the Congress such as Kunal Choudhary from Kalapipal, Sachin Birla from Barwaha, and Sachin Yadav from Kasrawad are leading from their respective seats.
Many senior BJP leaders and ministers were combating anti-incumbency. Minister of State for Technical Education and Skill Development Deepak Joshi from Hatpipliya, Cabinet minister Archana Chitnis from Burhanpur, Minister for Higher Education Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya from Gwalior, Rampal Singh from Silwani, and Narottam Mishra from Datia were trailing.
Once a BJP stronghold, Malwa-Nimar seems to have changed its loyalty to the Congress. Of 66 seats of this region, the Congress was leading on 35 seats — a gain of at least 26 seats.
The BJP had won 56 seats in the 2013 Assembly election, and was losing more than half seats this time.
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s magic seems to have worked in Gwalior and the Chambal areas, where his party was leading on more than 25 seats. The BJP was trailing in 13 constituencies in this area. In last elections, the BJP had won 20 and Congress had got 12 seats.
The BJP might have been suspecting a loss in the Vindhya region, but instead it seems to be turning out to be a setback for the Congress. Most of its candidates were trailing there. The BJP seemed to be gaining six seats, and was leading on 23 seats. It had won 17 seats in 2013.
Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, and Gondwana Gantantra Party were leading on two seats each. If the electorate failed to deliver a clear mandate, all eyes would be on them.
The election for the 230-member Assembly was held on November 28, with as many as 2,899 candidates in the fray.