Divided Congress, governance to keep Chouhan in CM seat: survey

Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s record on development over the course of a decade in charge of Madhya Pradesh has put him position to win his third straight state election, according to an analysis of a CNN-IBN survey conducted by Delhi-based research organisation CSDS and Lokniti that covered 2870 respondents in 35 constituencies in the state.

The survey showed that 72 percent of respondents are satisfied with the current Madhya Pradesh government, with 63 percent saying that the road situation has improved and 65 percent saying that the electricity situation has improved. Chouhan’s government has added 95,000 km of roads and more than 10,000 megawatts of power during its tenure.

The survey shows the colossal achievements of Shivraj Singh Chouhan in certain key sectors,” right-wing journalist Swapan Dasgupta said on a CNN-IBN panel discussion. “Electricity and roads are the two major issues which plagued Madhya Pradesh - you had Digvijay’s government, which was undone by these things.

“On these two very crucial things, he [Chouhan] gets very high ratings. You get a sense that in terms of livelihood concerns, Madhya Pradesh under Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has done phenomenally well. He is a leader who has got his fundamentals very right.”

At 78 percent, Chouhan’s own approval ratings are 6 percent higher than that of his party, and he is therefore a convincing front runner as the people’s choice for Chief Minister, with 44 percent of respondents picking him over his many potential challengers. The closest any of his rivals could get was Madhavrao Scindia, who was picked by 20 percent of respondents.

 Divided Congress, governance to keep Chouhan in CM seat: survey

Chouhan has shown that anti-incumbency is not a factor if you do a good job: PTI

Pushpesh Pant, former professor of international relations at Jawarharlal Nehru University, said that not only does the contrast with the past in the form of the Dijvijaya Singh-led Congress government favour the BJP, Chouhan also “represents a hope for the future”.

The survey also showed that the BJP government in MP is not perfect. 60 percent of respondents felt corruption in the bureaucracy had increased under Chouhan while 35 percent felt farmers were worse off compared to 31 percent who felt the lot of the farmers had improved.

However, the Congress has been unable to take advantage of these issues because of infighting within the party.

“They have not empowered their state leadership,” Deepak Tiwari, special correspondent for the Week magazine who covers Madhya Pradesh, said.

“Only in the last six months have they turned their attention to Madya Pradesh. The Congress was absent for the farmer’s movement. There was anger. It was BJP who was raising the issue against the state government. [In effect], the BJP was playing opposition and the government.”

Sandeep Shastri, the Vice Chancellor of Jain University in Bangalore, pointed out that respondents don’t see the BJP “as lily white on corruption,” but they perceive the Congress as more corrupt, giving the BJP as a healthy 10 percentage-point lead over it’s main national rival.

The Congress does still have an appeal for poor and rural voters though. The survey shows the BJP polls lower in rural voters while the gap between the parties narrows to 4 percent with poor voters compared to a 17 percent gap with middle and upper class voters.

Dasgupta felt that as “people move up the economic ladder, their political affiliation switches from Congress to other parties, be that BJP or a regional party because those parties offer greater hope for a better life.

The one potential trip wire for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was incumbency. “The BJP’s point of vulnerability is the fact that a certain staleness accompanies people who get elected time and time again,” Dasgupta said. “Turn over of candidates is very important.”

But there has been a change in the way voters behave, with anti-incumbency not as much of a factor when states are well governed.

“If you do a half-decent job and keep hopes alive of people then you are likely to get another term,” Dasgupta said.

Updated Date: Oct 29, 2013 09:51:16 IST