The results for the first phase of hotly contested Madhya Pradesh urban body elections were declared on Sunday, 17 July.
With Rani Agrawal becoming the mayor, the AAP's entry in Madhya Pradesh politics has stirred up new debates around the possibilities of a changing political sphere in the state.
But it's not just AAP, the entry of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which bagged four councillors post – two in Jabalpur and one each in Khandwa and Burhanpur; the loss of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gwalior – one of the strongholds of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); and the Congress bagging three mayoral seats, has made the run-up to the 2023 Assembly elections interesting.
AAP's Surprise Performance
Experts believe that the entry of the AAP spells trouble for both the Congress and the BJP. AAP's Rani Agrawal had also fought the 2018 Assembly elections and lost to the BJP's Ramlallu Vaishya with a margin of around 4,000 votes. However, this time she pulled her weight and won the mayoral seat by around 9,000 votes.
"The AAP's win was definite and with it, the state might see changing political equations, especially in the upcoming elections. However, the more dent will be on the Congress as it will face another competitor out for its vote share along with the parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party and we must also include the AIMIM now,"Senior journalist who did not want to be named
Out of 11 seats, seven were won by the BJP, the Congress bagged three, and the AAP secured one seat. What troubled the Congress more and possibly aided the BJP is the intervention of AIMIM.
In Burhanpur municipal corporation seat, the BJP's candidate Madhuri Patel won by 588 votes against Shahnaz Ansari of the Congress. On this seat, Shaista Shohail Hashmi of the AIMIM got more than 10,000 votes, which experts believe, changed the results for the Congress.
Similarly, in Khandwa's mayoral seat, the BJP's Amrita Yadav defeated the Congress's Asha Mishra by more than 19,000 votes whereas AIMIM candidate Sakira B got about 9,5000 votes.
RSS Proved Its Hold in Bhopal-Indore, Couldn't Save Gwalior
A senior journalist from Madhya Pradesh had said that the BJP is testing the base of its organisation and the hold of the RSS across MP and how much support it can rally behind the party symbol.
The test seems to have yielded mixed results with the BJP winning Bhopal and Indore with big margins while it lost the Gwalior seat, which is also considered a stronghold of the RSS.
"The biggest experiment by the BJP in these elections was to test how many seats it could win on the basis of its symbol and organisation. The candidates were finalised in this manner. Those who hardly thought they would contest for the councillor's post were given mayoral tickets. In the BJP, it is the organisation that fights the elections. They are trying to see its extent and impact in these elections. In the Congress, however, the elections are anchored by individual candidates. There isn't any strong organisational support, and this difference will have its impact."Senior journalist
The low voter turnout across Madhya Pradesh, especially in Bhopal, had left both parties wondering. However, the BJP's Malti Rai defeated the Congress' Vibha Patel by a margin of almost 1 lakh votes.
However, the Congress' Shobha Sikarwar snatched Gwalior mayoral post from the BJP's Suman Sharma after 57 years by defeating her with a margin of around 28,000 votes.
Good News for Congress, BJP Takes a Sigh of Relief
The BJP which held office of all 16 mayoral seats in the state before the 2022 Urban body polls, took a sigh of relief as it clinched seven seats out of 11. Whereas, the Congress is looking at the results more positively after having upped the tally from zero seats in 2015 to three seats in 2022.
The results of remaining five seats polled in the second phase will be declared on 20 July.
Congress' state president Kamal Nath in a press conference on Sunday, 17 July, also lashed out at the BJP for allegedly using money, administration, and bureaucratic support to win the elections. He also said that the AIMIM is BJP's B-team and that results of Khandwa and Burhanpur are the examples of their coordinated work.
In the panchayat elections, which aren't fought on party symbols, both the Congress and the BJP have claimed to have bagged more seats than the other, however, reports say that both stand almost equally and this is a major plus point for the Congress.
Experts believe that the Congress, if it could carry the rural trust it has gained in current elections to the Assembly elections, the fight in 2023 is going to be really tough for the BJP.
With the Assembly elections 2023 inching closer, the results of urban body polls have instilled a sense of hope for the Congress while for the BJP the battle has become a tad difficult.