Following a no-holds-barred campaign characterised by personal attacks,Madhya Pradeshs 4.64 crore voters will cast their ballot Monday to decide whether the BJPs Shivraj Singh Chouhan will retain his position with a third consecutive shot at power.
The Congress fightback has been led by Jyotiraditya Scindia,but the party has left it for too late appointing him poll panel chief in September.
In a poll that lacked any perceptible wave,the BJP is banking on the personal popularity of Chouhan and his governance record,complemented by populist and welfare schemes. Nearly 23 lakh voters will be exercising their franchise for the first time.
The BJPs prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed as many as 15 rallies in the state. In comparison,the Congresss Sonia,Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh addressed fewer rallies. Chouhan also took out a yatra covering all the 230 seats.
While the CM remains popular,many of his MLAs and ministers are struggling against anti-incumbency. The party denied tickets to 43 out of 143 legislators but could drop only two ministers. Two other ministers are not contesting for different reasons.
The Congress challenge was propelled by Scindia,a move that robbed the BJP of a crucial issue. The party had wanted to target former chief minister Digvijaya Singhs 10-year rule. While it had a lot to say against Singh,the BJP could place just one advertisement against Scindia,and that was one of its sober ones.
In fact the campaigning this time was among the most vicious the state has seen,keeping the Election Commission on its toes.