While the BJP was the clear winner, the Congress is also seeing several positives in results for the local body elections in Madhya Pradesh. After those for the second phase were declared Wednesday, the BJP was set to control 11 of the 16 corporations, 50 of the 76 municipalities and 150 of the 215 councils. The Congress won just five corporations, but this victory will be precious for the party coming after a wipeout in the 2014 local body polls, followed by the fall of its government in 2020 and losses in ensuing bypolls.
State party chief Kamal Nath declared it the party’s best performance since 1999, when direct elections to mayoral seats started in the state – a boost that the party desperately needed ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.
Among the corporations where the Congress is set to have its mayor are Morena and Rewa, while Katni will have a BJP rebel who stood as an Independent as mayor.
The AIMIM and AAP, making their debut in the bi-polar MP contest, also expressed satisfaction at the results. While AAP won as many as 40 wards in all, the AIMIM won seven, three of them in riot-hit Khargone, which saw its latest round of communal tension on April 10.
The BJP lost mayoral seats in Morena, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Katni, Rewa, Singrauli and Chhindwara, while winning Dewas, Ratlam, Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa, Burhanpur, Bhopal, Satna and Sagar.
The loss in Morena in Chambal region and Gwalior will particularly hurt as these are the base of BJP heavyweights like Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra, and Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Of Morena corporation’s 47 wards, the Congress won 19 and the BJP 15, while 8 wards went to the BSP.
Asked about the Gwalior-Chambal region results, BJP state president V D Sharma said: “We are doing an analysis on why we lost mayoral seats in Gwalior-Chambal region. It is not one factor, everything, from the situation, the individuals fielded and the management, will be reviewed.”
Party sources said that the selection of candidates is being seen as a major factor in the results, particularly in Jabalpur, Gwalior and Morena.
While the BJP managed to retain Ujjain and Burhanpur, it was with narrow margins of 542 and 736 votes, respectively. The BJP candidate in Ujjain won only after a recount, and in Burhanpur, the AIMIM’s presence helped the BJP by taking over 10,000 votes, presumably cutting into Congress numbers.
In Katni, BJP rebel Preeti Suri defeated its candidate.
One of the BJP’s biggest wins was in Dewas, where its mayor candidate, Geeta Aggarwal, defeated the Congress’s Vinodini Vyas by 45,884 votes.
Kamal Nath held a press conference to thank the people for giving the Congress its best result since 1999. The Congress had won two mayoral seats in 1999 and 2004 each, three in 2009, none in 2014, but five now, he noted. Elections could not be held in 2019 due to Covid, and then got delayed due to collapse of the Congress government.
On the BJP, Kamal Nath said: “It won all the mayoral seats in 2014 but lost seven this year, and yet they are celebrating. BJP ke saath wahi hai ki bachcha kisi aur ke ghar ho, aur jashn ye manayein (The BJP’s story is the same as that of a child being born in someone else’s house, and them celebrating).”
In a press release, the Congress listed the BJP’s “losses”: a “wipeout” on Scindia’s turf; “failure” of Tomar and V D Sharma in securing “own home of Morena”; the defeat of the BJP for the fourth time from the Bhopal ward where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan stays; and its second loss from the Bhopal ward where the RSS and BJP offices are located.
The AIMIM in-charge for MP, Sayyed Minhajuddin, said their tally of seven wards didn’t reflect the actual gains for the party. “The overall results are satisfactory. During our survey, we hoped to get more seats, but we had little time to prepare as the party decided at the last moment to contest. It was also the first time we entered the poll fray in MP.”
AAP MP president Pankaj Singh also said one needed to look beyond the party’s tally of 40 wards. “Apart from the wards we won, our candidates lost on 100 wards with very narrow margins. This was the first time we contested in local body elections in the state, and the results are encouraging, given our limited resources. We will work harder for the next Assembly elections.” In the 2018 Assembly elections, the party had fought 208 of the 230 seats, but drawn a blank, getting just 0.7% of the votes.
Results for 214 local bodies were announced on Wednesday, along with 40 municipalities and 169 Nagar Parishads. Earlier, on July 17, results had been declared for 133 local bodies, including 11 corporations, 36 municipalities and 86 councils.