NEW DELHI/BHOPAL/JAIPUR/RAIPUR: The Congress has failed to capitalise on the 2018 Assembly election victories in three Hindi heartland states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan — losing/trailing in 63 of the 65 Lok Sabha constituencies in the three states.
The party had swept Chhattisgarh in December 2018 elections winning 68 of the 90 seats while it formed governments in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan with wafer-thin margins.
But as the Modi juggernaut rolled out in the battle for the Lok Sabha, even Congress heavyweights in the three states fell. Prominent among the losers are Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Vaibhav Gehlot and Manvendra Singh.
Despite wresting the state from the BJP, the Grand Old Party couldn’t stop the BJP’s surge and it managed to win only 2 of the 11 seats. In Madhya Pradesh, it managed to win only one of the 29 seats and drew a blank in Rajasthan.
The reason behind Congress’s humiliation is being attributed to the lack of connecting with farmers despite the announcement of farm loan waivers in all three states. The party’s key schemes like minimum employment guarantee scheme (NYAY) failed to find resonance with the people. Nor could it wean away the youth from the BJP.
In Rajasthan, the farmers wanted their Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loans to also be waived, but that did not happen.
In Chhattisgarh, the BJP’s decision to deny tickets to all the 10 sitting MPs and fielding new faces worked for the party and paved the way for its recovery.
What came as a setback for the Congress was its loss in Durg constituency, which happens to be the backyard of three state cabinet ministers and the home district of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
The BJP had won 10 seats in all previous three Lok Sabha polls held in Chhattisgarh ever since it was carved out as a separate state in November 2000.
In MP, the BJP not bettered its 2014 tally of 27 seats, but even reversed the results of the December 2018 Assembly elections, when it had won just 109 seats, down 66 from the 2013 tally of 165 seats.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath managed to salvage his prestige as his son Nakul Nath won the Chhindwara seat for the Congress while he himself managed to win the Assembly bypoll by just over 25,000-plus votes.
The biggest setback for the Congress came for the Congress in Guna, the pocket borough of powerful Scindia family, where four-time sitting MP Jyotiraditya Scindia lost to his former aide KP Yadav. In the last 18 elections and by-elections the seat, 14 have been won by the members of Scindia family only.
In Rajasthan, the BJP won all 25 seats, repeating its 2014 performance and creating a record while the Congress was not even able to open its account after having formed the government in the state just a few months back. The BJP win came as a blow to the Congress.