The BJP managed to edge out the Congress party in 26 out of the 43 posts in the civic body polls which concluded in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday. However, the recent farmers’ agitation that led to the death of five people in police firing kept the saffron party away from the three seats in Mandsaur, the epicentre of the protests went with Congress party.
While the BJP won three urban local body posts less than in the 2012 polls, the Congress bettered its tally from nine to 15, consequently gaining six local body posts.
It is to be noted that the Mandsaur is part of Malwa region, which is an RSS stronghold. The Congress party has also made a come back in the polls. “The results were satisfactory and at places, the party got unprecedented support. Take, for example, Mandsaur - where all three Congress candidates won,” state Congress president Arun Yadav said. He added that the local body elections were a vote against 'corrupt practices' of the state BJP government.
The victory comes after a spate of routs in local body polls in the state it has been out of power since 2003, has brought fresh air to the Congress party in the state. Five years ago it had won nine in the civic polls.
Importantly, in the 2014 national election, the saffron brigade won 27 of the state's 29 seats.
The poll outcome in Mandsaur is significant as the farmer's protest are still going on in many parts of the state, which, according to political analysts, will bring more headache for Chauhan, who will be seeking a fourth straight term as chief minister in the upcoming Assembly elections in 2018.
“Farmers’ distress was a burning issue in Mandsaur and adjoining districts. Ahead of the polls on 11 August, the Congress, during its campaign, highlighted various problems the farmers in Madhya Pradesh have been facing. Here in Mandsaur, they had been at the receiving end and there's much anger among them. This has helped Congress win three Nagar Palika seats, a farmer from Garoth in Mandsaur Rameshwar Patidar, said.
The comparatively better performance for Congress was not an easy walk. It was Herculean task for the high command to get leaders like Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath, Suresh Pachauri and Ajeya Singh to work together, which indicates that better party-level organisation might bring better fruits in the state.