Statistically, the strike rate for BJP in Madhya Pradesh was even more than Uttar Pradesh where it had won 73 seats (including ally Apna Dal’s two seats) out of 80.
Its success rate was over 93% in MP (27 wins out of 29 seats). In UP, the party’s strike rate was 91%. As BJP faces risk of losing seats in Uttar Pradesh due to the SP-BSP alliance, it needs seats from Madhya Pradesh for realizing its aim to form the government at the Centre.
BJP leaders privately concede that it may not be possible to win 27 seats but the aim would be to minimize the losses and try to get close to the figure of 25. However, if the figure goes below 20, this will be a big setback for the party.
With SP-BSP coalition hurting the party’s prospects in UP, BJP can’t afford more losses in other states in North India, especially Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. These states had ensured that BJP crossed the majority mark on its own in the Lok Sabha.
The party leaders feel that the number of seats won in these states in the year 2014 (during the Modi wave) was optimal and losses are inevitable now. However, the aim would be to check the losses.
In case, BJP loses more seats here, it will be tough to compensate from other states. In the 2014 election, Congress had won just two seats in Madhya Pradesh—Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna) and Kamal Nath (Chhindwara). Later in a bypoll, Congress had won its third seat when Kantilal Bhuria won from Jhabua in November 2015.
Right now BJP leaders are confident of victory in nearly 10-12 seats.
There are a few other seats where party seems slightly ahead of Congress. However, BJP has its own problems that include anti-incumbency factor against sitting MPs, party leaders’ kin seeking ticket and sabotage.
Besides, the disgruntled former MPs who can’t be ‘managed’ as the party is now out of power in the state and they can’t be placated by accommodating them elsewhere. Still the party leaders feel that focus on ‘national security’ during campaign will help the party.
On the other hand, Congress has nothing to lose. It had just two seats in 2014 and it hopes to gain on tribal seats.
Further, the mood is more pro-Congress in Malwa-Nimar and Chambal region. The party is likely to get a couple of seats from other regions including Vindhya as well despite poor performance in Rewa-Satna during Assembly polls.
In fact, Congress wants to repeat its performance of 2009, a decade ago when it had won 12 seats. BJP, however, faces the tough task of retaining 27 seats. For BJP, the task is to cross 20 and go further up as much as possible. It’s over to electorate of Madhya Pradesh now.