By-elections fail to cheer Congress in Madhya Pradesh
Saffron has been the hue in Madhya Pradesh for the past ten years and barring the Guna and Chhindwara seats the BJP swept all 27 Lok Sabha seats in May.
Bhopal: In the bigger national picture the 2-1 score-line in favour of BJP in Madhya Pradesh by-elections would make a hazy reading as the focus remains on the turnaround in Bihar in the run up to the next year’s the assembly elections. But the BJP would be better off taking a realistic stock of own performance to gear up for panchayats and local bodies’ election which would define the political dynamics for the next few years.
The state government’s problems have just begun with power crisis and monsoon failure. Of the three seats in Madhya Pradesh the BJP won Vijayraghavgarh and Agar while the Congress wrested the Bahoriband in Katni district. In the assembly elections also the scores were same for these constituencies. The change came about as Sanjay Pathak, the wealthy mining baron from Vijayraghogarh, switched to the BJP during the Lok Sabha elections after long-drawn theatrics over the party’s decision to field Raja Pateria from Khajuraho.
It was the Congress that surprised itself by pulling off a consolation win on one of the three seats. Saurabh Singh Sisodia, who had earlier contested on the BSP ticket in November finished runner-up to BJP’s Prabhat Pandey. Sisodia apparently won on his own popularity as Prabhat Pande’s son Pranav failed to gain the sympathy vote after his father’s demise three months ago. Most senior leaders of the Congress had stayed away from campaigning in Boharibandh and Vijayraghogarh. They did campaign in Agar where the BJP’s Gopal Parmar was fielded in place of legislator Manohar Untwal who won the Lok Sabha elections from Dewas a couple of months ago.
In Agar, Parmar won by over 27,702 votes against Rajkumar Gore of the Congress. In Vijayraghavgarh, Sanjay Pathak won by 53,397 votes against Congress candidate Brijesh Mishra former Mayor of Katni Municipal Corporation. In Bohoribandh, Sisodia won by 7,977 votes.
Saffron has been the hue in Madhya Pradesh for the past ten years and barring the Guna and Chhindwara seats the BJP swept all 27 Lok Sabha seats in May. With a comfortable two-thirds majority in the assembly the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was not unduly worried about the results. The Chouhan administration has, of late, faced major corruption charges though. Incidentally the state was also unaffected by other extraneous factors like the Amit Shah effect. He has not visited here since his elevation as the BJP president.
Since the Lok Sabha elections the ruling party has had a new chief for the state unit. Nandkumar Singh who incidentally defeated the PCC chief Arun Yadav is the new incumbent and both the leaders belong to the agriculturally prosperous region of Nimar in western MP. Yadav was quick to react to the defeat. He said the BJP had misused the official machinery with impunity. He said the ruling party tried to prevent counting at Bahoriband when the Congress candidate had established an unbeatable lead. The other members of the party, however, concede that the party was hardly in the fight at other constituencies.
The Congress shows no signs of having recovered from its depressing performance in the assembly and general elections. The party largely depends on the efforts of the leader of the opposition Satyadev Katare and the PCC chief Arun Yadav and has little to offer by way of resistance. Unlike Bihar which has experimented with consolidation of the anti-BJP forces Madhya Pradesh, as a bipolar state has little to experiment with. Other parties like BSP, SP and JD(U) have remained on the fringes. The left parties have for long ceased to translate their presence into electoral victories. Only the BSP has tasted some success in the state assembly elections over the past couple of decades.
In the past 10 years since the Congress lost power in Madhya Pradesh there have been 15 by-elections and the BJP has won all but four of them. That shows the consistency of the ruling party’s performance. The Congress has, on the other hand, just waited for the ruling party to fall under the weight of its errors.
Maihar, another constituency in the Mahakoshal region should also have been up for by-elections. Bizarre turn of events created a piquant situation for the Congress. Its nominee Narayan Tripathi who won the elections soon cast his lot with the BJP. He had shared stage with Chouhan during the Lok Sabha elections. He worked against Congress but didn’t join the saffron party.
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