No sooner than the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the poll schedule for four seats going for bypolls in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, both the BJP and Congress engaged in verbal duel attacking each other and staking claims for a sweeping victory.
Three assembly seats- Raigain, Jobat and Prithvipur; and Khandwa parliamentary seats will go to polls on October 30 and results will be declared on Nov 2.
Raigaon seat has gone vacant after the demise of BJP’s Jugal Kishore Bagdi, Jobat after the death of Congress’ Kalavati Bhuria and Prithvipur after the passing away of Congress’ former minister Brijendra Pratap Singh.
The Khandwa Lok sabha seat had fallen vacant after the death of former BJP state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan.
Though these four seats are inconsequential in terms of numbers in assembly, the by-polls have no immediate bearing in the strength of the ruling BJP in the state but it is significant for both the BJP and Congress as the parties are gearing for the 2023 assembly polls.
“We always remain in poll-ready mode so we need not worry, ones whose leaders remain in the bed and keep tweeting require to be concerned,” Home minister Narottam Mishra said soon after the by-poll announcement. We are winning all the three by-polls, affirmed Mishra.
Congress also proved a match to the BJP, at least in making winning claims. Party spokesperson Ajay Singh Yadav claimed that public was fed up on issues including corruption, crimes against women and atrocities on the tribals and will side with the Congress party. We will win all the four seats, he added.
Like Damoh by-poll, we will win all the four by-polls, claimed PCC chief Kamal Nath in a tweet after the by-poll schedule announcement.
At least fake announcements of crores of projects, ground breaking and fake project commencement will stop, said Nath in a veiled attack on Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s announcement spree, of late. We are in complete preparation and will announce the candidates at appropriate time.
Arun Yadav of Congress is likely to contest the Khandwa seat while BJP is expected to field Nandkumar Singh Chauhan’s son Harshwardhan Singh.
At Raigaon, BJP could field late Bagdi’s son Pushpraj while Nitin, son of late Congress MLA Brijendra Singh Rarthore is expected to contest to retain his father’s seat.
At Jobat, Congress is expected to field Kantilal Bhuria’s son Vikrant. Late Kalavati was niece of Bhuria senior.
To add, this session of assembly had been marred by continuous by-polls. Last year, as many as 28 by-polls were held after mass exodus in the Congress party. Winning 19 seats, the BJP had secured majority in the by-polls considered the most spiteful and rancorous polls in the parliamentary history of MP.
Early this year, the two parties locked horns for Damoh by-polls and despite an all-out offensive from the BJP, Congress’ Ajay Tandon had edged out turncoat Rahul Lodhi in the by-polls. Lodhi had also resigned from Congress party in favour of Scindia last year.
Congress is yet to fully switch to poll mode while for BJP, CM Shivraj and state head VD Sharma are already campaigning in the poll-bound seats.
EC issues Covid-19 guidelines
Meanwhile, the EC has issued strict guidelines amid Covid-19 allowing only two persons with candidates while filing nominations. Only two vehicles are allowed for nomination process and EC is also offering online nomination facility. It has further allowed only five persons for door-to-door campaigning and a fleet of five vehicles for campaigning.
BJP-Congress strength in assembly
Post demise of the MLAs on three seats, the BJP had 125 MLAs in the assembly out of 230 seats in total while the Congress party has 98 seats in assembly after the win in Damoh by-poll. Besides, there are seven independents in the House.