Assembly election results: BJP sweeps MP, wrests Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday, on the back of “Modi’s guarantees”, swept aside the Congress challenge in the Hindi heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, a result that strengthened Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s prospects of leading his party to a third successive Lok Sabha triumph five months hence.
The Congress consoled itself with a win in Telangana, but the results jolted the party, which would sit down, along with rest of the INDIA bloc of Opposition parties, on Wednesday, to plan the road ahead. With the Congress losing the heartland, where it had “guaranteed” a return to the Old Pension Scheme, the election results could ease the pressure on the Centre on the issue.
However, the BJP had matched the Congress ‘guarantee’ for ‘guarantee’, such as announcing increasing the minimum support prices of paddy and wheat, more subsidy on cooking gas cylinders, increasing financial assistance to farmers and even reducing fuel prices in Rajasthan — promises that, if delivered in states or replicated at the Centre, would add to the fiscal burden.
The BJP leadership, including the Prime Minister, attributed the party’s wins to the support it received from women, which could dictate the contours of the interim Budget. For example, more women voted for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, which the party said was a result of its Ladli Bahna scheme, and its Chhattisgarh leaders credited the victory in that state to a similar promise of direct benefit transfer to women that the BJP made to the women there.
The BJP had contested the elections without announcing chief ministerial candidates. With Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan beating anti-incumbency yet again, and the BJP top leadership effecting a rapprochement with Rajasthan’s Vasundhara Raje, it remains to be seen if the two satraps would return. The BJP’s strategy of fielding 18 of its MPs in the Hindi heartland states helped in galvanising the party cadre.
Addressing party workers at the BJP headquarters in the evening, the Prime Minister said the BJP’s “hat trick” of winning the three states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan was a “guarantee” of its “hat trick” of Lok Sabha elections wins in 2024, and the electoral triumph will echo across the world, enthusing investors.
Peppering his speech with the phrase “Modi”s guarantee”, the Prime Minister, in a reference to the demand for a caste census, reiterated that for his government, there were only four castes -- women, the youth, farmers, and the poor. He said all castes, including Other Backward Classes and the country’s tribal population, were reflected in these “four castes”. The Prime Minister said the results would persuade the world to continue to keep its faith in India’s progress and infuse more confidence in global investors for the country. The world is watching that people are voting for a stable government which enjoys a strong majority, he said.
Congress sources said the party would need to reflect upon why the Hindi heartland continued to repose its trust in the credibility of “Modi’s guarantees”, rejecting the “Congress guarantees”, which had helped the Congress win Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka in December and May, respectively. The heartland also deflated the leitmotif of the Congress campaign -- a demand for a nationwide caste census.
The results, however, showed that the BJP’s juggernaut struggled in its march south of the Vindhyas with the Congress winning Telangana, ending K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s decade-long rule in the southern state. The win is a rare instance in recent decades of a Congress comeback in a state it had lost to a regional force. The BJP was number three, winning eight seats with nearly a 14 per cent vote share, with Modi noting that his party’s graph has improved in Telangana with each election.
In his speech, the PM saw in the win a vindication of his government’s battle against corruption.