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Chitrakoot By-election: Big Win For Congress a Booster Shot Ahead of 2018 Polls

Nilanshu Chaturvedi's win is a major morale booster for the Congress ahead of the assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh next year, while it has set the alarm bells ringing for the BJP, especially Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:November 12, 2017, 6:32 PM IST
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Chitrakoot By-election: Big Win For Congress a Booster Shot Ahead of 2018 Polls
Congress' Nilanshu Chaturvedi won the Chitrakoot by-election by over 14,000 votes.
Chitrakoot: In a big boost for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, its candidate Nilanshu Chaturvedi won the by-election for the Chitrakoot assembly seat by over 14,000 votes on Sunday.

The seat, a Congress stronghold, had fallen vacant after the death of MLA Prem Singh earlier this year. Chaturvedi took an early lead as counting started at 8am. He never looked back and relegated BJP’s Shankar Dayal Tripathi to a distant second.

Heir to an influential landlord family of Chitrakoot, he consolidated his margin in later phases and BJP had to accept defeat even before the counting concluded.

The win is a major morale booster for the Congress ahead of the assembly polls next in the state next year, while it has set the alarm bells ringing for the BJP, especially Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

BJP could not even manage to get the majority votes in the 13 areas where Chouhan held public meetings, including in village Turra, where he had spent the night at a tribal household. Even Chouhan’s promises of multi-crore budget allocation for the constituency failed to swing support in BJP’s favour.

The loss has given the party something to think about as it prepares its election strategy in the newly set up “war room”, almost a year before the polls.

The win for Congress, however, was not completely unexpected. The party has kept the seat every time since Independence, except in 2008, when BJP’s Surendra Singh Gaharwar wrested the seat.

In a puzzling move though, Gaharwar was denied a ticket despite his frantic pleas. Aware of mass support for Chaturvedi in a Brahmin dominated constituency, BJP had tried to persuade Prem Singh’s nephew Mangal Singh to switch loyalties, but it failed.

Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, who is seen as the architect of this win, told reporters that this win signifies that Congress’ political exile in the state is over. “BJP could not muster votes where CM Chouhan held meetings or even had the night stay,” said the party leader.

BJP state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan accepted defeat and said the party respects public opinion and would introspect on the reasons for the loss. He reminded that the seat was a Congress bastion and said BJP’s 200 plus aim for 2018 assembly polls was well and truly on target.
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