The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) achieved a major victory in bypolls held to 28 legislative assembly constituencies, winning and leading in 19; the Opposition Congress, which won 27 of these seats in the 2018 state assembly elections, could win or lead in just nine.
The bypolls were necessitated by 25 Congress MLAs resigning from the state assembly — 22 (all loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress in March to join the BJP) and three in July — and due to death of three more (two from the Congress and one from the BJP). Of the constituencies that saw by polls, 16 fall in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
Analysts said the results are significant for several reasons: one, the BJP has got a clear majority in the 230-member state assembly by increasing its strength from 107 to 126 MLAs ; two, it is a victory for Scindia, who campaigned for many of the candidates; and three, the BJP’s margin of victory on many of the seats was high.
Of the lawmakers who quit the Congress in March and subsequently joined the BJP, 12 were made ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government. The win allows them to remain ministers.
The BJP won nine out of 16 seats in the Gwalior-Chambal region, and six of the seven seats in Malwa.
Senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Scindia’s influence was clearly visible in the results in Guna, which is Scindia’s own parliamentary constituency, where his party won all three seats.
This, experts said, was a repudiation of the personal and bitter campaign waged by the Congress against him.
“People have given a befitting reply to the policies of Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh and policies of corruption and anti-development. I bow to the people of Madhya Pradesh and the workers of BJP for their blessings and support in this election,” said Scindia.
Outside his area of direct influence, the BJP didn’t perform as well. For example, in Morena, the BJP won two out of five seats.
With the BJP’s victory, chief minister Chouhan and Scindia, who led the BJP’s campaign from the front and dubbed themselves the “Shiv-Jyoti Express” have emerged stronger within the BJP, political analysts said.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “This victory is of people of Madhya Pradesh, their trust in the BJP and also of democracy, development and social justice.”
Admitting the party’s defeat former chief minister Kamal Nath said: “We respect the public’s mandate. We made our efforts to convey our message to people. I am thankful to voters. We will discharge our duties as a responsible Opposition and will continue to fight to protect the interests of people and the state. We will review the results. I hope that BJP government will take care of interest of farmers, youth, women and others.”
Congratulating the BJP candidates on their victory and expressing his gratitude to all the voters, Scindia said: “I strongly believe that all the winning candidates will always be eager to ensure development of their constituencies.”
Political analyst Girija Shankar said, “The by poll results have silenced all the critics of Chouhan and Scindia. They have emerged stronger in the BJP. Scindia has proved once again that he is a true mass leader.”
“The results also suggest that people are still angry with the Congress and Nath for not fulfilling their poll promises.”
The Congress won the 2018 elections in the state and formed the government, which fell earlier this year on the resignation of the lawmakers.
Political analyst Jayant Singh Tomar said the Congress may have suffered because of its “negative campaign.
“It appeared as if the party had nothing to say about its governance for 15 months,” he said.
Senior state Congress leader Manak Agarwal said the party would review its performance and “take corrective measures.”
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