Madhya Pradesh Cliffhanger: Congress One Short Of Majority But Claims Victory

All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee members and farmers on Friday march towards Parliament from Ramlila Ground in New Delhi to press for their demands

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the media that he was confident of a Congress victory in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and said he had "always been a little more pessimistic" about Telangana.

The results came as a shot in the arm for Rahul Gandhi, president of the Congress party, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups and present Modi with his most serious challenge yet in a general election due by May.

"We don't agree with the ideology of the Congress". While Times Now-CNX gave Congress 105 seats and 85 to BJP; India Today-Axis My India predicted 119 to 141 for the Congress and 55-72 for the BJP.

"A disappointing set of state election results. suggests that the ruling national party has lost some goodwill", London-based economic research consultancy, Capital Economics, said in a note.

Correspondents say losses in these polls are a factor of anti-incumbency in the states and are not a major cause for worry for the BJP. Next year much will depend on the kind of strategic regional alliances the Congress is able to stitch up and sustain in different states.

The main opposition Congress party could form governments in the central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and in the western state of Rajasthan, all big heartland states that powered Modi to a landslide win in the 2014 general election.

In Rajasthan, the Congress received 39.3 per cent of the votes while the BJP got 38.8. Up until last Tuesday, the BJP would have looked forward to such an unequal fight, in its view, between Pappu and the party's hero with his macho image.

"The Congress party has emerged as the single largest party with a majority support".

The party also performed poorly in the southern Indian state of Telangana and the north-east state of Mizoram, which also went to polls.

In the southern state of Telangana, the incumbent regional government-the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)-was re-elected comprehensively defeating the Congress and its ally, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). And in the recent election campaign too, Mr Gandhi rapped senior leader C.P. Joshi in Rajasthan for his casteist remarks.

Voting in the three states was spread over the past two weeks. It will be very hard for Modi and the BJP to win the 2019 elections.

The picture becomes clearer in the 10 Scheduled Caste (SC) reserved seats, where BJP had made a near clean sweep, winning 9 of them, in 2013. Some of India's important institutions like the federal investigation agency CBI and the central bank have been roiled by controversies, prompting many to believe that their independence has been eroded.

"It is a signal to many who believed that the BJP could not be defeated", Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi University, said.

"What was promised by Modi has not been delivered...that question does arise".

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