Even though it was the Congress party that won the 2018 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, it is Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who has been at the helm of the state for the majority of the term of the outgoing assembly.
Congress leader Kamal Nath was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh in 2018 but his government collapsed within the next year and a half and Shivraj, who had previously run the state for 13 years at a stretch, returned to power.
On the eve of Madhya Pradesh election results, here is a recap of the 2018 MP assembly elections played out and how BJP secured power even after losing the elections.
Madhya Pradesh assembly election results of 2018
In 2018, the contest in the Madhya Pradesh assembly elections was between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress. Unlike Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the state does not have regional parties and Congress and BJP remain the main contenders for power.
While Shivraj Singh Chouhan sought a third straight term, Congress sought to wrest power from the saffron party that had ruled the state for over a decade. That's exactly what happened. Congress won the elections and Kamal Nath was chosen to helm to run the state.
In the 230-member assembly, Congress emerged as the single-largest party with 114 seats and secured the support of a spattering of smaller parties and Independent MLAs to cross the majority-mark of 116 to form the government. The final tally stood as follows:
- Congress (+) : 121
- BJP :109
The Congress government, however, only lasted for a year and half as Shivraj returned to power in 2020.
How BJP installed Shivraj Singh Chouhan as CM again
Within a year and a half, the Kamal Nath ministry collapsed in Madhya Pradesh and he resigned as the Chief Minister, paving the way for Shivraj Singh Chouhan to return for his fourth term.
The reason for the fall of the Nath ministry was the rebellion of Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who left the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He currently serves in the Narendra Modi ministry at the Centre. Along with Scindia, 22 loyalist MLAs resigned and reduced the Congress party's strength and brought down the majority-mark of the Madhya Pradesh assembly, thus paving the way for BJP to form the government.
Just as the Covid-19 pandemic was setting foot in the country, Shivraj was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, but he was no longer the tall leader he was before 2018. That has been reflected in his tenure since then. Neither he nor the party are clear if he would continue to lead the state if the party returns to power in the state. He has also resorted to replicating Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath's policies in the state, transforming from 'Mama' who ran on a social welfare to 'Bulldozer Mama' who demolished houses of alleged criminals in line with Adityanath's 'Bulldozer Baba' persona.
This time, while Shivraj and the BJP are banking on two decades of women-centric welfare schemes along with the 'Modi factor', the Congress party is banking on anti-incumbency and Nath too has embraced Hinduism and has emerged as a 'Hanuman Bhakt' to negate the saffron party's charge of Congress not representing the Hindus.
While the BJP lost the 2018 assembly elections, the party has been comfortably in power in the state since 2020. The party holds 127 seats and the Congress party 96, according to the latest information available on the assembly's website. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) holds two seats, Samajwadi Party (SP) one, and Independents hold four seats.