BJP Likely to Come Back with Thumping Majority in MP as Pollsters Predict Loss for Congress in Heartland
The Bharatiya Janata Party has not lost a parliamentary election from Bhopal since 1989. BJP’s Alok Sanjar had in 2014 won the seat with a vote margin of almost 3.8 lakh against Congress’ PC Sharma.

New Delhi: Poll agencies have predicted a landslide win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh.

The News18-IPSOS Exit Poll has predicted 24-27 seats for the BJP and two-four for the Congress.

The Aaj Tak Axis poll showed the BJP sweeping Madhya Pradesh with 26-28 of the total 29 seats, while the Congress is predicted to get between one-three seats.

The Chanakya-News24 has predicted the saffron party getting 27 seats and Congress bagging only two.

A poll of several exit polls published by the NDTV shows the BJP getting 25 seats and Congress four constituencies.

If true, this would be a repeat performance by the BJP which bagged all but two seats — Guna and Chhindwara — in the 2014 general polls.

These polls suggest that ‘Brand Modi’, which was under question during the assembly polls, featured quite strongly during the Lok Sabha polls.

It would also suggest that the Congress, coming on the back of a strong performance in the assembly polls when it went on to form the government, may have failed in many areas.

Infighting and flawed ticket distribution could be some of them.

The grand old party’s drubbing, were the exit polls to hold their own on May 23, would also mean that it was not able to capitalise on its apparent goodwill in several constituencies — rural areas with deep agrarian distress, Dalits, Adivasis, and women voters — where the Congress had tended to show a strong performance.

The BJP maintained all along that the Assembly results would not cast a shadow on the Lok Sabha polls.

The most-watched constituency in the state this time was Bhopal, where the BJP fielded the controversial Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts case, against Congress veteran and former CM Digvijaya Singh.

Thakur, who joined the race almost a month after Digvijaya Singh’s candidature was finalised, was more of an election issue than just a candidate.

Many raised questions over her candidature, wondering if someone who’s out on bail in a terror case should have been allowed to contest general elections.

According to pollsters, fielding Thakur was also an example of how the BJP tried to redefine “majoritarian communalism” as nationalism under pressure from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Not a stranger to controversies, Thakur was barred from campaigning for 72 hours by the Election Commission for her remarks about former Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad chief Hemant Karkare and for expressing pride about her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Soon after her candidature was announced, Thakur claimed to have cursed Karkare, which, according to her, led to his death. Karkare was killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

Singh, too, drew the poll panel’s attention by involving sadhus in his election campaign. Days after Namdeo Tyagi alias Computer Baba performed a "hath yoga" for the senior Congress leader, the Election Commission took cognizance of the matter and initiated a probe to decide if Singh had violated the model code of conduct.

Another important seat in Madhya Pradesh this time was Guna where former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia was contesting from his traditional seat.

While Scindia has been a consistent winner over the years, organisational responsibilities in Uttar Pradesh kept him away from campaigning in full steam this time.

He also incurred the wrath of BSP supremo Mayawati for poaching her candidate from Guna, Lokendra Singh, who dropped out of the contest at the last minute.

In 2014, Scindia had defeated BJP’s Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya in Guna by over 1 lakh votes. This time he is up against KP Yadav of the saffron party.

The Congress had lost 27 of the 29 parliamentary seats in the state in 2014, with only Kamal Nath and Scindia managing to withstand the ‘Modi-wave’ in Chhindwara and Guna, respectively.

The grand old party, later, won the bypolls in Ratlam after the death of BJP MP Dileep Singh Bhuria in 2015.