The ghosts of demonetisation have clearly failed to scare the voters of Shahdol and Nepa Nagar in Madhya Pradesh, as the BJP won both seats in the Parliament by-election.
The bypoll results, announced on Tuesday, have given a clear thumbs-up to the ruling Shivraj Singh Chauhan government in Madhya Pradesh. Though opposition parties in Delhi have projected that "crisis and fear factor arose due to Narendra Modi's demonitisation move", the Congress party failed to utilise this to its advantage.
BJP's Gyan Singh emerged winner in the Lok Sabha (LS) constituency, defeating Himadri Singh of the Congress by a margin of 60,333 votes, while the party also enjoyed success in Nepanagar Assembly seat, where its candidate Manju Dadu defeated Antar Singh of Congress. The Nepanagar seat was vacated following the death of sitting MLA Rajendra Shyamlal Dadu in a road accident.
Citizens of the two constituencies have credited the BJP's attractive policies and the inability of the Congress party to appeal to them for the results. "It's due to Modi and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that the BJP has won. Senior Congress leaders from Madhya Pradesh failed to make their presence felt in this by-election; they failed to use the demonetisation issue to their advantage. Moreover, several attractive schemes of the state government worked in favour of the BJP candidates," said Pramod Singh, a cooperative society employee from Nepanagar.
However, while the BJP won in Shahdol, its margin reduced from 2,41,301 votes to 60,333. Initially, the Congress was upbeat about this Lok Sabha seat; at one point in time, it was even expected it would win here. Congress candidate Himadri Singh, who belongs to the royal family of Pushparajgarh, was said to have an edge over Gyan Singh, who was considered an "outsider" from Umaria.
Political analysts feel it was Chouhan's master strategy that catapulted Gyan Singh to the winning seat. Initially, Gyan Singh himself was not convinced about contesting, but Chouhan considered his candidature above other aspiring candidates and fielded him.
The BJP holds 27 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats from Madhya Pradesh, while its tally in Vidhan Sabha is 165 from the 230-seat House.
In July this year, the BJP had lost three municipal body polls in Isagarh, Maihar and Mandeep to the Congress. It was a big jolt to the ruling party, but it hasn't translated into similar victories in the bypolls.
Gyan Singh will now have to vacate his Umaria Assembly seat, meaning there will be another bypoll and another opportunity for the Congress.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan's personal charisma among rural voters, and the one-on-one connection he enjoyed in the past.
The state government's schemes like 'Mukhiyamantri Tirth Darshan Yojna' (Pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens), schemes for students and girls, etc.
CM Chouhan and other senior ministers and BJP leaders conducted a series of rallies in the two constituencies.
Overconfidence: In July, three municipal polls went to the Congress. It was a big blow for the BJP, and the Congress may have become over-confident during the bypolls.
It failed to properly use the demonetisation issue to its advantage.
In comparison to the efforts put in by Chouhan and his cabinet colleagues, campaigning done by the Congress bigwigs like Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh, Arun Yadav, etc remained a mere formality.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress also failed to use party vice-president Rahul Gandhi and his image to its advantage.
According to the voters, Congress had nothing new to offer — no plan or welfare programme for the public, in case it had won.
The party's grass root communication with the masses was missing.
Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Arun Yadav failed to convince voters in Nepanagar to vote for the party, though it falls his his Lok Sabha constituency.
Umesh Chandra Shrivastava, a voter from Umaria said the Congress party's chances in the upcoming bypoll are also remote. "Only time will tell how the Congress will fare. But people in Madhya Pradesh are well aware that the party has nothing tangible to offer. Moreover, the party's internal politics in MP have corroded it from inside and ruined its chances of winning any elections. Winning a municipal poll is quite different from winning a Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha seat," Shrivastava said.