The Congress will closely stake claim to form the next government in Madhya Pradesh after emerging the largest party in a see-saw battle with the BJP, which lost power after putting up a strong fight. The Congress is two short of the majority mark of 116 in the 230-seat Madhya Pradesh assembly but has bridged the gap with help from Mayawati, who announced her support this morning.
The Congress’s major trio of Kamal Nath, JyotiradityaScindia and Digvijaya Singh met Governor Anandiben Patel around noon.
The party’s next challenge is likely to be an estimated leadership tussle. Later today, all lawmakers will come together to pick the chief ministerial candidate but sources say the party favours Kamal Nath for now.
After a sleepless night, the Congress finished with 114 seats, stopping just short of a majority but finishing the ruling BJP’s dream run in one of India’s most vital bellwether states.
Outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he would resign and the BJP would not stake claim to create the government. With 109 seats, the party had last night indicated it may also meet the Governor for a shot at power. “We did not win a majority so will not stake a claim,” Mr. Chouhan, who ruled the state for three straight terms, said.
Mayawati’s support was the game-changer for the Congress after its struggle to reach the target despite its top leader Kamal Nath told reporters at 2.45 am that his party was winning an absolute majority.
Kamal Nath had earlier in the day visited out to Mayawati, who had snubbed the Congress during alliance talks before the polls.
The BSP has won two seats and the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav one. He has also announced help for the Congress.
The BJP, which ruled Madhya Pradesh for 15 years, trumped the Congress in vote share by a slender margin. The party got 41 per cent of the total votes polled, while the Congress got 40.9 per cent.
The BJP fared badly in Mandsaur, the epicentre of farmer protests last year, from where Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched his election campaign.
The party is seen to have lost out in rural areas and in reserved constituencies.