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Hung Assembly looms over Madhya Pradesh

Shashikant Trivedi in Bhopal | November 26, 2008 13:18 IST

Amid speculation of a hung Assembly, the stage is set for the 13th assembly election in Madhya Pradesh [Images] where bi-polar politics is common. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress are likely to face stiff challenges to reduce their losses and gains, respectively, for the first time from various political forces in the state.

Polling will be held on November 27 to elect a new 230-member Assembly with a total of 3,179 candidates in the fray. As many as 35,705,136 voters will exercise their franchise. Though an analysis of voting pattern reveals that only 20 per cent electorate usually vote in favour of "third front" candidates, this election has paved the way for Mayawati's [Images] Bahujan Samaj Party, Uma Bharti's Bharatiya Janshakti Party and Mulayam Singh Yadav's [Images] Samajwadi Party to reveal their strength.

Ignoring the poor performances in the previous elections, the BSP has fielded its candidates in all the constituencies. While the BJS and SP have fielded 215 and 186 candidates, respectively, there are a total of 1,374 independent candidates, most of whom are dissidents of the BJP and Congress.

In the 2003 elections, the BSP won only 2 seats out of the 157 it had contested, while the SP secured only nine out of 161. But observers believe Gwalior-Chambal, Bundelkhand-Baghelkhand and some parts of tribal-dominated areas are likely to prefer third front candidates.

The BJP's state unit chief Narendra Singh Tomar has expressed confidence that his party will win the elections with a comfortable majority on grounds of development undertaken by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his colleagues, his Congress counterpart, Suresh Pachouri, has nothing to showcase but to accuse the ruling party of corruption charges.

The BJP has fielded 12 ministers, who are facing corruption charges, while the Congress has given tickets to those who were labelled as "tainted" during 1993 to 2003.

The BJP has displayed confidence of retaining power by skipping pre-poll campaigns and public meetings in many constituencies including Budni, the chief minister's home turf.

The Congress has no option but to repeat many of those candidates who had lost elections the last time.

Political observers believe there is a strong possibility that no single party would secure the magical figure of 116 in the 230-member Assembly. "If we go by the voting pattern, only 20 per cent voters vote to third front candidates but all of them do not win," says Girija Shankar, a political observer.

Others believe the voting percentage may also go down to as low as 50 per cent this time as 1,300 independent candidates are contesting elections.

In absence of issue and anti-incumbency wave against the ruling party, the campaign, which ended Wednesday, remained sluggish and uninteresting.



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