regular-article-logo Saturday, 02 March 2024

Live Updates, State assembly elections: BJP set to take Chhattisgarh, sweeps Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; Congress sure of Telangana

Voters are known to switch allegiances in state and national elections, but for many political strategists this is the last dress rehearsal before the big one: the 2024 eneral elections

Our Web Desk Published 03.12.23, 07:13 AM

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The BJP is likely to sweep Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and is surging ahead in Chhattisgarh while the Congress was leading in Telangana, according to the Election Commission. The BJP looked set for a fifth consecutive term in power in Madhya Pradesh with leads in over 150 seats and the Congress trailing in about 70-odd seats in the 230-member assembly. The BJP was also way ahead of the ruling Congress in Rajasthan, which has traditionally voted alternately for the two parties. Early trends showed a close contest in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh. But as the day progressed the BJP gradually overtook the Congress.

  • Chhattisgarh: BJP leading in 54 of 90 seats, Congress ahead in 33 seats as per trends, says Election Commission
  • Madhya Pradesh: BJP leading in 161 of 230 seats in Madhya Pradesh, Congress ahead in 66 as per trends: Election Commission, reports PTI
  • Telangana: Congress leading in 46 segments in Telangana, BRS in 26 and BJP in 4 seats: Election Commission website, reports PTI
  • Rajasthan: BJP crosses halfway mark in Rajasthan with its candidates leading in 100 seats while the Congress was ahead in 68, according to Election Commission trends, reports PTI
  • Congress leading against its rival BRS in Telangana even as Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was trailing in Kamareddy constituency: Election Commission
  • Rajasthan: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot leading in Sardarpura seat with a margin of 5,759 votes. According to the Election Commission trends, Gehlot is leading with 12,536 votes. Gehlot is pitted against BJP's Mahendra Singh Rathore.
  • BJP leader Vasundhara Raje is leading in Rajasthan's Jhalrapatan assembly seat with 7,025 votes against her Congress rival Ramlal Chouhan: Election Commission website
  • Chhattisgarh: BJP ahead in 24 seats and the ruling Congress leading in 22 seats, the Election Commission said. A TV news channel, however, said the Congress was ahead in 54 seats and the BJP in 35 seats in elections to the 90-member state assembly, reports PTI
  • Madhya Pradesh: Ruling BJP ahead in 115 seats and the Congress in 44 seats, the Election Commission said. A TV news channel, however, said the BJP was ahead in 124 and Congress in 100 of the 230 assembly seats in the state, reports PTI.
  • Telangana: Congress leading in 65 out of the 119 seats in Telangana. The initial trends showed the national party was racing ahead of the incumbent BRS, which was leading in 39 seats, reports PTI
  • Counting for state Assembly polls begins in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana

There’s high political tension in the countdown to the results of the assembly elections that could be a strong pointer to how the BJP will fare in next year’s national vote. Will it be a 2-2 split between the Congress and the BJP? Alternatively, will the BJP romp to victory in all three North Indian states. Or, more possibly, will they grab back Rajasthan and cling on to Madhya Pradesh? Most polls and analysts reckon the Congress will come out in front in Chhattisgarh.

The exit polls have thrown all these options open. In Rajasthan particularly, the results could be too close to call. In Telangana the polls are unanimous that the Congress will come out ahead of K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS). Could it be that after dropping Telangana from the party’s name, the BRS may lose power in the state?

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Everyone knows voters can switch allegiances in state and national elections. But for many political strategists, this is the last dress rehearsal before the curtain rises on the final performance: the 2024 general elections. The conventional wisdom until the exit polls appeared was that the Congress, under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, would hang on to Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh, many analysts also figured the Congress, led by veteran politico Kamal Nath, would edge out the BJP, which has been in power for the last 15 years, helped by an anti-incumbency wave.

The exit polls presented a totally different picture. Most of those polls reckon that the BJP will retain Madhya Pradesh. In fact, the India Today-Axis My India poll, which has built a formidable track record of getting its predictions right in recent years, reckons that the BJP will storm to victory in the state. The poll also forecasts that the BJP will grab Rajasthan back from the Congress. (The state has had a habit of alternating parties in every state election since the 1990s.)

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It should be remembered that in the 2018 Rajasthan state elections, the Congress won 99 seats compared to the BJP. But in percentage terms, Congress received just 39.30 per cent of the vote and the BJP was not far behind at 38.08. As such, Rajasthan is a nightmare state for exit polls and could swing either way.

What about the leading political personalities in all these states? The BJP central command appeared to be eager to cut its local chieftains like Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia down to size. Initially, it looked as if both were destined for the junk heap of politics, even if their party won in the states. But, as the election progressed, it became clear that both would be needed in the pitched battle against the Congress. Now it looks very likely that if the BJP wins in the two states, both these politicians could return with a bang.

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Even if the BJP does win Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the Congress gets Telangana, it could impact the balance of power between the two parties. This would mean that the Congress is in power in two of south India’s richer states. It would also mean that Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Calcutta and Delhi are controlled by Opposition parties. This could have several political implications.

But keep in mind that political analysts on the ground seemed to think that the Congress would win a strong victory in Madhya Pradesh and might even manage to cling onto Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. If that scenario does become a reality it could be a triumphant 4-0 result for the Congress. That would truly set the cat amongst the pigeons in the brutal world of Indian politics and it could put huge question marks over the 2024 general elections.

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