The Madhya Pradesh Congress matched up against the BJP on every count of social engineering in run-up to the assembly polls. The party promised everything and some more than what the ruling BJP dispensation in the state has been giving to the people by way of doles and goodies to keep its voters happy.
The Congress promised to provide a health insurance cover of Rs 25 lakh for every family and Rs 10 lakh accident cover. It promised free school education under the Padhao Padhao Yojana, allowance of Rs 500 per month to students from classes 1 to 8. In classes 9 and 10, students were promised payment of Rs 1,000 per month as stipend while those in classes 11 and 12 were promised Rs 1,500 per month.
Countering the BJP’s Ladli Bahna Yojana, which is a big attraction for women voters for the monthly allowance of Rs 1,250 they get, the Congress promised Rs 1,500 per month through Naari Samman Yojana. It even promised farm loan waiver and caste survey.
The party’s ‘Vachan Patra’ promised nine rights to the common people, including right to water, right to health, right to electricity, right to education, right to food, right to housing, right to minimum income, employment guarantee and right to social justice. To combat inflation, the party promised LPG gas cylinders at Rs 500, free electricity upto 100 units and half the tariff for those who consumed up to 200 units.
But the comprehensive defeat at the hands of BJP, despite all the right noises it made, has left the Congress shocked and befuddled. The exit polls tilted towards the Congress. The anti-incumbency factor for a party ruling the state for the last 18 years was good enough a reason for the Congress to sniff a win this time. At least 13 sitting ministers lost their constituencies including stalwarts like Narottam Mishra and two well-known MPs – Ganesh Singh and Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste.
Defying all logic and calculations, the BJP has turned the tables on the grand old party once more, washing away its desperate dreams of a revival in the Hindi heartland.
Top party leaders like former chief ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh could not figure-out what went wrong when everything seemed perfect for a victory.
“We are yet to comprehend that while our voting percentage remained constant at 40% similar to 2018, how did the BJP with all the anti-incumbency manage an increase in their voting percentage by nearly 9% making it close to 50% for the ruling party,” a senior Congress leader said.
State Congress president Kamal Nath accepted defeat and in an honourable way said he still had faith in the voters of Madhya Pradesh. Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh was speechless.
The press conference at the state PCC office was brief even as the atmosphere was sombre. Kamal Nath said, “In this contest of democracy, we accept the decision made by the voters of Madhya Pradesh. Today, as the Opposition party, we will continue to work on our duties. The biggest challenge before us is the future of the youth, increasing unemployment and the agrarian sector. The agricultural sector comprises of 70% of the state’s population, our priority should be to strengthen the agrarian sector.”
Kamal Nath said, “I congratulate the BJP and hope that the way people of the state have supported them, they will work to fulfil the expectations. The trust that people have on the BJP, that trust will be justified by the party.”
“I hope that the trust that people of Madhya Pradesh have put in the BJP will not be betrayed,” he further said. About the Congress’ defeat, the veteran leader maintained, “We will review what were the shortcomings. Will discuss with all our candidates, those who lost and those who won and then reach a conclusion.”
Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha said, “The reason for this outcome will be known after discussions. The voting pattern seems different from what we saw on the ground. The change that everyone saw and spoke about, why that has not transformed to votes is a matter of analysis. The reactions of the people are not in harmony with the votes, this means there is a problem somewhere. We were expecting better results.”