Battleground MP (3): Janata Party halted Congress winning streak, BJP made Madhya Pradesh its citadel

The political scenario in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which is known as the Heart of Incredible India has remained steady. In the Legislative Assembly that came into existence on November 1, 1956, after Independence, the Congress party maintained its dominance till 1967 like in the rest of India. In 1967 Samyukta Vidhayak Dal a coalition of Jan Sangh (parent body of BJP), Praja Socialist Party, Samyukta Socialist Party, Bhartiya Kranti Dal, defectors from Congress and smaller local parties came together to form the first non Congress government in the state. The government lasted for around 20 months, post which Congress cane to power due to inherent contradictions in the alliance.

After the Emergency in 1977, the Janata Party shook the roots of the Congress in the state elections held in an anti-Congress atmosphere which had gripped the entire nation. This was the second jolt to Congress in the state. Jan Sangh leaders Kailash Joshi, Virendra Saklecha and Sunderlal Patwa were Chief Ministers during this 3 year tenor till 1980.

In the aftermath of the Ram mandir movement, BJP formed the first ever government in 1990. Madhya Pradesh became one of the first BJP ruled states along with Rajasthan in the country. Although Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa’s government could run only three years, was dismissed under the pretext of threat on secular fabric of the country, this government laid the foundation of BJP era in Madhya Pradesh.

After the Emergency, the Janata Party demolished Congress supremacy by winning 320 seats in the 1977’s assembly elections. The government was formed under the leadership of Kailash Joshi. After the dissolution of the Janata Party, elections were held in 1980 and the newly formed BJP won 60 seats with 30.3% votes, while the Janata Party got reduced by to 2 seats with just 2.9% votes. Congress won by 246 seats and returned to power.

After 1980, Congress won again in the 1985 elections. After the Palampur Adhiveshan in 1989, the BJP aggresively pursued the Ram mandir movement. During the peak of the movement, elections were held in some states in 1990, in which the BJP surprised everyone with unexpected results. BJP government was formed in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. On March 4, 1990, Bhairav Singh Shekhawat in Rajasthan and on 5 March 1990, Sunderlal Patwa took oath as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

After the Babri demolition in 1992, the Patwa government was dismissed on 15 December 1992. Elections were held in 1993 and the Congress won 174 seats in MP under the leadership of Digvijay Singh. BJP could win only 117 seats, despite 38.3% vote share, compared to 40.7% of the Congress.

In the elections held in 1998, the public once again showed faith in the leadership of Digvijay Singh. Congress formed the government with 172 seats and the BJP reached 119 seats with marginal gain of 2 seats. In both the partie’s vote share, there was a close difference of just 1.3%.

Elections in 2003 were held when significant anti incumbency had developed against the 10 year long reign of the Digvijay Singh government. BJP made OBC leader and Ram Lalla movement’s fire brand leader Uma Bharati as CM candidate. Under Uma’s leadership, BJP demolished Diggie’s fort and destroyed the stronghold of Congress.

Congress candidate won 173 seats and Congress just 38 seats. But Uma Bharti could remain as Chief Minister only for 252 days and resigned from the post after warrant was issued against her in the 1994 Hubli riots. BJP made Babulal Gaur as CM, but he could remain CM only for 15 months.

BJP entrusted the responsibility of Chief Ministership to Shivraj Singh Chouhan on November 29, 2005 after Babulal Gaur. After that whatever happened, is in front of everyone. In the 2008 and 2013 elections held during the UPA regime, the BJP managed to retain power in the state under the leadership of Chouhan. In 2008, with the loss of 30 seats, the BJP could muster 143 seats. Uma Bharti formed the Bharatiya Janashakti Party and contested separately which resulted in a loss of some seats to the BJP. Uma Bharati’s party won 5 seats and recorded 4.7% vote share. Uma Bharti returned to BJP fold in 2013. With Uma back and Shivraj-Modi factor, BJP registered a 8.1% increase in vote share and won the 165 Assembly seats (+22).

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Except two non-Congress governments before 1990, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, where the Congress was in the pole position in the 20th century, the 21st century in Madhya Pradesh belongs to BJP and it has emerged as its stronghold second only to Gujarat under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chauhan. While In Gujarat, BJP won its sixth consecutive term in 2017, in Madhya Pradesh it is on the way to win for the fourth consecutive time. Interesting battle on the cards…

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