BJP wins comfortably in Assembly byelections in Madhya Pradesh

Published : November 10, 2020 23:43 IST

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan (left)with state BJP president V.D. Sharma celebrate the party's victory in the Assembly byelections, in Bhopal on November 10. Photo: A.M. Faruqui

Both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh backed the incumbent parties in the byelection. In Madhya Pradesh, where Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s fate depended entirely on the byelection in 28 constituencies, the BJP registered a comfortable victory. The BJP has either won or leading in 19 constituencies whereas the Congress could only manage nine seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not win any seats but polled close to 6 per cent of the votes.

In the house of 230, the BJP had 107 seats and the Congress 87. The BJP had wrested power from the Kamal Nath government in March when Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia switched over to the saffron fold along with 22 MLAs. Two more Congress MLAs subsequently resigned while three MLAs (two from the Congress 2 and one from the BJP 1) passed away.

Former Chief Minister Kamal Nath focussed on Covid mismanagement and the betrayal of the mandate by the BJP in his campaign, but the results showed that it failed to convince the voters, with some analysts pointing to the edge the BJP had in the caste arithmetic. Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it was clear that the people of the State acknowledged his development and welfare work and backed him strongly.

The BSP’s was seen as having the potential to play spoilsport in the key constituencies in Gwalior-Chambal where there is a divide between the upper castes and Scheduled Castes after clashes broke out in June 2018 over the dilution of the provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. The Congress swept the Gwalior-Chambal belt in the 2018 Assembly elections, winning 27 of the 34 constituencies; 16 of them were up for grabs.

In a conversation with Frontline during the campaign, Congress leader Devashish Jarariya minced no words when he accused BSP chief Mayawati of being a BJP proxy “solely tasked with scuppering the Congress’ prospects”. “The BSP is acting as a vassal of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, and the choice of its candidates also demonstrates that. Take, for example, the case of the Joura constituency. BSP candidate Maneeram Dhakad finished second behind Congress candidate Banwarilal Sharma in 2018. The constituency has a 35,000-strong Dhakad or Kerar community, to which Shivraj Singh Chouhan also belongs. In order not to divide the BJP’s Kerar votes, the BSP dropped him and fielded Soneram Kushwaha,” he pointed out. The BSP fielded candidates in all 28 seats.

In Chhattisgarh, Congress candidate K.K. Dhruw won the Marwahi Assembly byelection by defeating his nearest rival, the BJP’s Gambheer Singh. Dhruw polled a whopping 56.1 per cent of the votes.