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Assembly election results 2018: Big blow for BJP as Congress takes Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan; stakes claim in Madhya Pradesh

Assembly election results 2018: Big blow for BJP as Congress takes Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan; stakes claim in Madhya Pradesh

Assembly election results 2018: Big blow for BJP as Congress takes Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan; stakes claim in Madhya Pradesh
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By CNBC-TV18 Dec 12, 2018 2:09:36 PM IST (Updated)

The setback for BJP suggests that farm distress and a lack of jobs for growing numbers of young people could prove stumbling blocks for its re-election bid in May.

The Congress won in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — and, with it, the ability to make a serious bid to unseat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections due in early 2019, though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s standing both as an unmatched force in Indian politics and an unyielding electoral tactician was again on display because of the BJP’s better-than-expected showing.

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Congress won majority with 114 seats but fell short of two to win the election, however, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) extended their support to the party to keep BJP out of power in the state. While, Congress' closest rival BJP secured 109 seats.
Voters in Rajasthan picked 99 Congress candidates compared with 73 candidates of the BJP from the 200 seats up for grabs, returning the party to power after the customary five-year break.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress took 68 seats of the 90-member assembly against the BJP's 15 while the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti retained power in Telangana by crushing the grand old party by winning 88 seats of the total 119.
Some of the Congress’ cheer was tempered by the loss in Mizoram, where it lost power to the opposition Mizo National Front, garnering only five seats compared with MNF’s 26 in the 40-member assembly.
Virtual Semifinal Before The General Elections
The polls are seen as a bellwether of the 2019 general elections. Voters in the five states together accounted for about a sixth of the country's total.
"The results will set the tone for the 2019 election," Sachin Pilot, a leader of Congress told Reuters on Monday.
The setback for BJP suggests that farm distress and a lack of jobs for growing numbers of young people could prove stumbling blocks for its re-election bid in May. The victories bolster the Congress’ bid to unite other opposition parties against the BJP and Modi, though his personal popularity remains high, despite criticism that he was unable to deliver on promises to create jobs for young people and improve the conditions for farmers.
The loss is the biggest for the BJP since it swept to power in 2014 general elections, followed by wins over the past four years in 22 of India’s 29 states, on promises of thousands of jobs and a doubling in farm income. By the same token, it is the biggest win for the Congress, which was reduced to a rump of 44 seats in 2014, following its win in Karnataka where it had to share power.
Big Boost for Coalition Of Opposition Parties
The Congress appeared to have marshalled the support of nearly all of the sections that were disgruntled by the central and state government policies to defeat BJP.
The elections were a test for Rahul Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, who has suffered one electoral loss after another. The victories mean his standing in the party and his opposition counterparts will be burnished as he tries to cobble up support to mount a serious challenge to Modi.
Anger over weak farm prices, slow growth in rural wages and small businesses hit by a new nationwide goods and service tax (GST) has also boiled over, provoking protests by tens of thousands of farmers in Delhi and Mumbai.
The markets recovered some ground after an early fall as the unexpected resignation of Urjit Patel as Reserve Bank of India governor on Monday shocked investors.
The rupee dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after Patel’s exit.
The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent, with investors cautious ahead of the election results.
The poor performance could prompt the BJP to push its brand of Hindu nationalism harder, according to political analysts.
Already hardline groups associated with the party have reignited their campaign for a Ram temple at the sacred site of Ayodhya. Thousands of activists linked to the BJP gathered in New Delhi on Sunday in a show of force to back the temple.
Hindu fringe groups have also stepped up a campaign against the slaughter of cows, which many in India consider sacred.
Modi is expected to try to recover political ground with giveaways in the next few months for small businesses and farmers, who make up a big chunk of voters.
With inputs from Reuters
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