Who won the semi-finals? – A semi victory in a semi-final

Ahead of the Madhya Pradesh civic elections, the media and party leaders were calling it a ‘semi-final’ for the 2023 assembly. The results of the elections to 413 municipal bodies in the state, after a delay two and a half years old, they gave a similar feeling. Direct elections were held to elect mayors of 16 municipal corporations, while the presidents of 99 municipalities and 298 councils would later be elected through indirect elections by councillors.

These results indicate the existing political terrain of both BJP and Congress in the state. In the last elections in 2014, the BJP had captured 16 prestigious municipal corporations, while this time it managed to win only 9. The Congress, which last time did not have a single municipal corporation, increased its strength from zero to five The BJP’s defeat in Gwalior and Jabalpur is considered particularly embarrassing as the Congress has won here after a gap of 57 years. Gwalior’s defeat is also a big blow for the party because many senior BJP leaders, including two Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Jyotiraditya Scindia, hail from this area and it has been considered a BJP stronghold. After a long time, the Congress also won in Chhindwara, the home of state Congress president Kamal Nath. It also won Rewa, the seat of the party’s Vindhya region, where it had suffered a crushing defeat in the assembly elections 2018. Apart from this, Burhanpur and Ujjain also remained in the Congress’s bag. The BJP has won both these corporations by a margin of less than 1,000 votes.

The BJP can take solace in the fact that it has the largest number of councilors in Gwalior and Jabalpur. But the question that will haunt BJP leaders is why its old urban stronghold was broken and how did the party lose an important mayoral election? Urban areas have traditionally been dominated by the BJP, but for the party losing the mayoral elections, what will be the impact on the urban seats in the assembly elections, especially since almost a third of the 230 seats in the ‘state assembly are located in urban areas. ?

Political analysts suggest that BJP’s entire game is spoiled due to inadvertent distribution of tickets in municipal corporations. In Jabalpur, Congress candidate Jagat Bahadur Annu, ‘the man of the masses’, has risen to the top of politics in the municipal elections after sweating hard at the grassroots and was considered the most favored candidate from the first moment On the contrary, the BJP candidate prevailed from above. In Gwalior, there was a fierce fight between the Scindia and Tomar fields for the wickets and the result is in front. The interesting thing is that after five decades, the candidate who bagged the Congress Mayoral post in Gwalior has his roots in the BJP. From here, MP Satish Sikarwar’s wife Shobha has won. Sikarwar has come from BJP to Congress.

The electoral machinery that the BJP is known for did not seem active during these elections. His much-touted booth-level strategy was clearly not working, especially in BJP strongholds like Bhopal, indicating low turnout. Since the day of the poll, voters were reported to be running here and there to find their names on the electoral rolls of their old booths, but no one from the party told them in which booth their names were. Although the BJP eventually won Bhopal and Indore by a heavy margin, party leaders held their breath till the results were announced due to low turnout and lapses in booth management.

These municipal elections have opened doors of possibilities for parties other than BJP and Congress in the state. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won Singrauli Municipal Corporation. AAP’s Rani Agarwal won the mayor’s seat in a triangular contest. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had held a road show in Singrauli and there were indications that AAP was fighting this seat hard and was in the running to win.

In Burhanpur, the Congress lost by a margin of 600 votes and there are allegations that Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM worked as the BJP’s ‘B team’ to ensure its victory here. AIMIM candidates got more than 10,000 votes in Burhanpur and around 10,000 in neighboring Khandwa. The party already has a presence in the two border towns with Maharashtra. AIMIM also won four councilor seats in Jabalpur, Khandwa and Burhanpur.

AIMIM’s presence in Madhya Pradesh may be a matter of luck for the BJP which will cut into the Congress votes. But she may not be so relaxed about AAP’s presence in the state’s electoral landscape as it is likely to spoil the votes of both the BJP and the Congress, and the ruling party is likely to suffer more. Apart from winning Singrauli, the AAP candidate got 45,762 votes in Gwalior, while five corporators were elected in Singrauli and 11 councilors in 10 smaller municipalities (Tier-3).

Given its superior position in civic bodies, can the Congress believe that all is well? Political analyst Girija Shankar says, “Elections are won with good candidates and party support. The Congress won seats where it had better candidates and leaders working for those candidates. In the 2023 assembly elections, Congress will have to come together and compete.

Interestingly, after these results, both BJP and Congress celebrated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated the party on Twitter and credited it to the work of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also congratulated party workers for the party’s “victory” in Madhya Pradesh.

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