Madhya Pradesh Election – Why is BJP struggling ?
Lot of articles have been done on this topic and so we will leave the journalists to cover the human side of the story. What we will focus in this brief article is on the data, nothing more.
Let us look at two key crops – Rice and Wheat
Growth in the last 5 years has been mindboggling. In fact, when it comes to wheat, 82% of India’s increase in wheat production came from Madhya Pradesh. India’s wheat production is growing faster than the population growth. And so India’s wheat exports grew dramatically during this period, as you can see in the chart below
So when India started supplying more and more wheat and producing more and more rice, look at what happened to Rice and Wheat Prices?
The MSP Fuelled era of UPA-2 pushed up prices of food (and resultant inflation) plus relatively lower production yielded much higher prices compared to the Modi NDA era where while food production continued to grow, there was limited price support while at the same time excess production resulted in lower prices as well. When one combines both the production increase as well as lack of improvement in prices, Farmer incomes haven’t grown by much between 2013-18 and 2008-13. A similar story can be seen in Pulses and vegetables as well. Add Demonetisation as well and the impact has been much more severe. So while we are all enjoying lower inflation, a combination of lower MSP support, excess production and lower population growth has hurt the Madhya Pradesh Farmer. Also, unlike many other States, Madhya Pradesh is one of the few States where Farmer Population increased in 2011 versus 2001. The dependency therefore is much higher
In Sum, excess production, fewer exits from Agriculture, lower prices have all impacted the average farmer in Madhya Pradesh. As a consequence while their lifestyles continue to improve between 2013-18, it was perhaps not at the same pace as between 2008-13. With Farmers and Agriculture workers forming a significant 40-50% of the households in Madhya Pradesh, they are a decisive vote bank in 70% of the Seats. The BJP’s strategy will be to overcome this by focussing on caste (OBCs primarily) and also by targetting rural folks who have expanded beyond agriculture. In that sense, BJP in Madhya Pradesh has a back up plan once its agriculture strategy has struggled. The bigger mistake the BJP made was to open its urban flank open to the Congress, particularly outside Indore. CW Surveys have shown employment to be a bigger issue than Agriculture. Should BJP lose Madhya Pradesh, it will not lose because of farmers alone, it will lose because many urban voters outside Indore are unhappy over regular issues like Jobs and Income growth. That will be the surprise of the Madhya Pradesh election. On CW, Madhya Pradesh is still heading BJP way. One more day for voters to make up their mind.