Madhya Pradesh local bodies polls – do results hint at what may happen in assembly polls?

In the recently concluded Municipal Nagar Palika and Nagar Palika Parishad elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress managed to secure 9 Presidential posts each with one seat won by an independent candidate and the result of another withheld under the orders of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The BJP secured 194 Councilors while the Congress won 145.

In Raghogarh, which traditionally has been a Congress bastion, the Congress managed to win 20 out of the 24 wards while BJP nabbed the remaining 4. In Pithampur Nagar Parishad election in Dhar district, the BJP secured 23 out of 31 seats. In Omkareshwar Municipal Council of Khandwa district, the BJP managed to secure 12 out of 15 seats. In Anuppur district, in Jatihar Nagar Parishad, the BJP and the Congress secured 5 seats each with the remaining 5 won by Independent candidates.

Overall, the BJP and the Congress both managed to retain their own strongholds although the Congress did manage to win in some towns which have BJP MLAs. While the BJP will not be too concerned with the results, reports of infighting within the party in Dhar may well prove to be a cause for concern for Shivraj Singh Chouhan with Assembly Elections later this year.

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Certain sections of the media have tried to portray the results of Raghogarh as a ‘setback’ for the BJP while revealing the dubious nature of their conclusions later in the same article. Raghogarh has been a traditional Congress bastion where it has ruled in the local bodies for the past two decades and hence, the domination of the Congress Party in the 2018 municipal elections come as no surprise.

People should analyse these results with some caution and not reach premature far fetched conclusions on the basis of Municipal Council election results which are mostly fought on local issues. The Congress and the BJP have both done well in their respective strongholds. The BJP has managed to win 194 wards of the 352 that went to polls which translates to 55% of the seats. The Congress, on the other hand, managed to secure 43% of the votes, slightly higher than its usual 40% vote-share during Assembly Elections.

Despite what certain media outlets would want you to believe, there has not been any significant ‘setback’ for the BJP. However, the results of certain wards in Dhar and Barwani districts where the Congress has managed to win will provide some food for thought for the party ahead of the Assembly Elections towards the end of the year. The BJP can not take the challenge from Congress as weak, the way perhaps they did in Gujarat.

Meanwhile, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report, 33% of the candidates contesting the Municipal Council elections are crorepatis and 16% of the candidates have serious criminal background. 2 out of 19 from the Congress, 1 out of 20 from the BJP, 2 from SHS and 5 independent candidates have declares serious criminal cases against themselves.

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