BJP’s win in 2013 was big, with the party returning to power with more seats, vote share. In 2018, it saw a slide, but the fact that only 0.1% votes separated it from Congress, after 15 yrs in power, showed its hold on the state

The Election Commission is in the final stages of assessing preparations in the five poll-bound states, with the poll schedule expected to be announced any time now.

In Madhya Pradesh, recent elections have seen a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. The ruling BJP, in an attempt to steal a march on its rivals, has already announced candidates in the seats it lost in the 2018 elections, and where it expects a tough fight – including bringing in central leaders into the state contest to shake up the political scene. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stepped up his visits to the state, including on Thursday, to announce and inaugurate development projects.

The Congress, which is yet to announce candidates, will be hoping to better its good 2018 performance, when it had emerged as the single largest party and formed the government with support from the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Independents to end 15 years of BJP rule. However, just over a year later, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had switched to the BJP along with 22 Congress MLAs, bringing the Kamal Nath government down, and returning the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan as Chief Minister for a fourth time – making him the longest-serving CM of the state.

As parties sharpen their poll pitch, also with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls next year, here’s a look at how Madhya Pradesh has voted in recent elections.

The BJP has not been out of power in Madhya Pradesh since 2003, barring the little time after the 2018 elections. Chouhan became the CM in 2005, taking over from Babulal Gaur as CM after the BJP’s victory in the 2003 elections. While the BJP lost some ground from 2003 to 2008, in 2013, the party led by Chouhan won by both a bigger seat tally and vote share. Though the Congress’s vote share rose in 2013, it won fewer seats than it did in 2008.

But 2018 was a different story. The Congress put up a stiff fight against the BJP, matching the saffron party’s vote share and just falling short of the majority mark. The BJP lost its first Assembly poll in MP since 1998, though it went on to return to power through defections in 2020.

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By Divya

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