Madhya Pradesh is seen as a bipolar state where the main contest is between BJP and Congress. The impression is because other parties barely manage to win seats.
However, the reality is different and three parties–Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) have dedicated vote in different regions of the state and it is the performance of these parties that determines the winner on at least eight Lok Sabha seats (out of 29).
An example is Morena seat in Northern part of the state. In 2014 election, during the ‘Modi wave’, BJP’s Anoop Mishra had won from this seat. The contest was between BJP and BSP on this seat. While Anoop Mishra had got 3.75 lakh votes, BSP’s Brindawan Singh Sikarwar had got 2.42 lakh votes.
Congress candidate, Dr Govind Singh, a veteran leader, had got just 1.84 lakh votes and came third. While on this seat the contest was between BJP and BSP, there are seats where Congress leaders feel that they lose because BSP or SP (or GGP) got too many votes.
A case in point is Rewa seat in far eastern part of the state. In 2014, BJP’s Janardan Mishra had won from this constituency. Mishra had got 3.83 lakh votes. Congress’ Sundarlal Tiwari had got 2.14 lakh votes.
However, it was a triangular fight and BSP candidate Devraj Patel had got over 1.75 lakh votes—more than the margin of victory. Remember, this is the same seat that had elected BSP candidate in 2009. Congress was a close second, with BJP far behind.
In fact, BSP has won the seat in the past too—in 1991 and 1996. This is the same region where giant-killer Sukhlal Kushwaha had contested on BSP ticket and defeated none other than veteran BJP leader Virendra Saklecha, while Arjun Singh had been relegated to the third spot.
In 2009, Kushwaha (BSP) had lost to BJP’s Ganesh Singh by just 4,000 votes and Congress was out of race as its candidate came fourth, even behind SP. SP candidate had got 1.30 lakh votes and Congress candidate got barely 90,000.
This tells the impact of BSP in Vindhya region of the state. Even Sriniwas Tiwari, one of the tallest leaders of the region and a former Assembly speaker, was defeated by BSP candidate here (Rewa constituency) in the past.
Similarly, in tribal dominated areas, the Gondwana Gantantra Patry (GGP) is a factor and its performance can tilt the balance. However, in tribal constituencies in Western MP, Jay Adiwasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) is now getting more popular.
With BSP and SP having an electoral alliance in MP now, it can have an impact on Congress’ prospects even more. BSP has its influence in Gwalior-Chambal region apart from Vindhya in the Eastern part of the state while SP has influence in the constituencies that border UP.
Also, SP’s performance depends more on candidate. Balaghat is an example. In 2014, Bodh Singh Bhagat had secured 4.80 lakh votes and defeated Congress’ Hina Kawre who had got 3.84 lakh votes. But the performance of SP and BSP candidates couldn’t be ignored—SP’s Anubha Munjare had got nearly 1 lakh votes.
BSP had also got nearly 46,000 votes with CPI candidate walking away with a chunk of votes. Clearly, it was a multi-cornered fight. BJP hasn’t given ticket to Bhagat and he is now contesting as an independent, making the contest even more interesting.
Some other seats where these parties have an impact on results include Bhind, Khajuraho and tribal-dominated Shahdol and Mandla seats. Both SP and BSP have substantial support in Khajuraho, a constituency (in Bundelkhand) that borders UP.
With SP fielding bandit Dadua’s son, all eyes are on this constituency in the state. Even in Gwalior, BSP has a strong base. In the last election, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar had defeated Congress’ Ashok Singh in a tough fight. The victory margin was around 29,000 votes.
However, the BSP candidate had got nearly 70,000 votes here. Apart from these eight constituencies, ‘third front’ parties have presence in two other seats—Damoh and Sidhi, where their performance can have an impact on the result, especially, in case of a close contest.