MP election 2018: Congress emerges as the single largest party just two short of majority

New Delhi: With the counting for Madhya Pradesh election 2018 winding up on Wednesday evening, Congress emerged as the single-largest party with 114 seats. The BJP won 109 seats, the BSP 2 seats, SP one seat and Independents 4 seats.

Both BJP and Congress had almost the same vote share at around 41% and the difference of votes polled by the parties across the state was only 47,827.

With none of the two parties getting a majority at 116 seats, smaller parties and Independents will play a crucial role in deciding who forms the next government in the state, ruled by the BJP for the last 15 years. The Congress reached out earlier, said sources, to the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party which won two and one seats. It also contacted regional player Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and independents who won the remaining four seats.

Mayawati’s BSP said it will “try and ensure the BJP does not form government. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, “The ideology of SP, BSP and the Congress is the same – different from that of the BJP.”

The Congress, while snatching Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan from the BJP, has also made massive gains in Madhya Pradesh at the cost of the BJP. In the 2013 poll, the BJP had won 165 seats, getting a comfortable majority in the Assembly, while the Congress had won only 58 seats.

Exit polls last week had predicted a tight race in Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan has sought a fourth straight term as Chief Minister. Since then, both parties have been working on plan B to rope in smaller parties and Independents in case of a hung assembly.

Senior leaders in both parties had confirmed on condition of anonymity that they were working on permutations and combinations to finalise plans to ensure they could get their support to form government if required.

Polling was held on November 28 during which 38.9 million voters out of the more than 50 million voters cast their votes at more than 65,300 polling booths across the state for 230 seats. The turnout rose from 72.69 % in 2013 assembly elections to 75.05%.