Madhya Pradesh went to polls on 17 November, pitting the Congress—and several smaller outfits—against the eighteen-year tenure of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s incumbent chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Elections in Madhya Pradesh can be a complicated affair, with 230 constituencies in 55 districts, and a total of 2,533 candidates facing off for the approval of more than 5.6 crore voters this time. Here, The Caravan breaks down the key parties, regions, candidates and constituencies of the polls.
Madhya Pradesh was among the first states in the country where the Bharatiya Jana Sangh—the BJP’s predecessor—established a towering presence, winning the state in 1977, soon after Emergency, along with its other Janata Party partners. Since then, the state has seen long tenures of both the Congress and the BJP, untouched by severe anti-incumbency. After a decade of Congress rule, the BJP had returned to power in 1990, following which another decade passed under the Congress’s Digvijaya Singh, from 1993 to 2003.
The 2003 election proved key in dislodging the Congress from power. By then, the Congress’ influence among Dalit communities had waned, in favour of the rising Bahujan Samaj Party. Its support among the Other Backward Classes—nearly half the population of the state—was lost to the BJP. The saffron party had been able to groom several OBC leaders, who took up the chief ministerial reigns in rapid succession, from Uma Bharti to Babulal Gaur and Chouhan, a trend discussed in a recent piece in this publication.