|HOME | NEWS | ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS '98 | REPORT|
|November 17, 1998||
Narrow margin separates Congress, BJP
The electoral fortunes of the arch-rivals in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling Congress and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, are poised on the razor's edge as it were. With both parties running neck and neck, a mere 1 per cent swing in votes will probably suffice to determine the winner.
The last time round, in November 1993, a swing of 1.98 per cent in favour of the Congress had seen it finish with 174 seats, 57 more than the BJP. The Congress had got 40.74 per cent of the votes polled, the BJP 38.76 per cent.
The swing was a more pronounced 5.47 per cent in the BJP's favour in February 1990. As a result, the saffron party had won a two-thirds majority with 219 seats in the 320-member assembly. Riding the strong anti-Congress wave, it had cornered 39.93 per cent of the votes polled. The Congress was reduced to 57 seats in its one-time fortress, with 33.56 per cent of the votes.
It was the worst performance by the Congress since the creation of Madhya Pradesh in 1956. Earlier, in 1985, the party had swept the poll in the wake of Indira Gandhi's assassination with 48.87 per cent of the votes to get 250 seats.
But even then the BJP had polled a respectable 32.47 per cent, though it had only managed to get 58 seats.
The only other time the Congress has done as spectacularly in recent times was in 1980, when it had drubbed the crumbling Janata Party and secured 246 seats with 47.51 per cent of the votes. The nascent BJP had secured 60 seats with 30.34 per cent.
The BJP has had a significant base in the state for a long time. Even in its earlier avatar as the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the party had polled 28.46 per cent votes in 1972 (48 seats), 28.28 per cent in 1967 (78 seats), and 16.6 per cent in 1962 (41 seats). Its steady rise over the years has seen Madhya Pradesh develop a classic two-party polity.
The last election in 1993 was significant for another reason: it saw the Bahujan Samaj Party emerge as the 'third force' in Madhya Pradesh, polling 7.06 per cent votes to get 11 assembly seats even though 235 of its 287 candidates failed to save their security deposits.
That election also marked the end of the Janata Dal's pretence of being the third force. The Dal, which had won 28 seats in 1990 with 7.7 per cent of the votes, was reduced to four seats, with its vote percentage halved. Of the party's 260 candidates, 234 even lost their deposits.
The Dal had seen better days. In 1977, its predecessor, the Janata Party, had won a majority with 47.28 per cent of the votes and 230 seats in the state assembly. The Congress, with 35.88 per cent voting in its favour, had won 84 seats.
SHOPPING HOME | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS
PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK