Bhopal, Dec 8: The ruling BJP comfortably coasted to victory in Madhya Pradesh, winning the mandate to be in power for the third consecutive five-year term.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party won 32 seats and was leading on 123 seats, breaching the half-way mark in the 230-member assembly and ensuring for the soft spoken Shivraj Singh Chouhan a third term as the chief minister. The Congress won from 10 constituencies and was leading in 57.
After a handsome win, a smiling Chouhan said it is only in the BJP that an ordinary party worker can become a chief minister.
He had tried his best to serve the people and would continue to work for the development and welfare of the state. He described the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in Madhya Pradesh as a triumph of its ideology.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was quick to hail Chouhan.
“Called Shivraj ji to congratulate him for BJP’s wonderful performance in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections!,” tweeted Modi after the BJP headed to a thumping victory in Madhya Pradesh.
BJP workers celebrated across the sprawling state that has a population of 72 million.
They burst fire crackers, beat drums, distributed sweets and waved their party flag, celebrating the poll success.
In the last assembly, the BJP had 143 members and the Congress 71. The voting percentage this time was 70 percent of the total electorate of 46,457,724.
Chouhan, 53, was first appointed the chief minister in 2005. Before that, the BJP’s Uma Bharati became the chief minister in 2003 and after she quit, Babulal Gaur became the chief minister for a short while.
Madhya Pradesh has achieved high GDP growth in the past few years, shedding the epithet as a BIMARU state. BIMARU (or sickly in Hindi) was an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, coined for these four north Indian states lagging behind in economic development.
Madhya Pradesh has also seen impressive growth in agriculture under Chouhan’s stewardship. His schemes for welfare of girl children have been emulated by some other states.
Chouhan has sought to build an image as a moderate, tolerant leader. He sported a traditional skull cap while greeting Muslims after Eid-ul-Fitr prayers in Bhopal earlier this year, unlike Modi whose refusal at an event in Gujarat triggered a controversy and national headlines.
The vote count started across 51 districts at 8 a.m. Postal ballots were counted first and half an hour later, the counting of ballots cast through the electronic voting machines (EVMs) began. As many as 2,583 candidates battled it out in the election for which polling took place Nov 25.