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The Election Commission has made the Congress victory in Mungaoli official. Congress candidate Brajendra Singh Yadav got 70,808 votes while the BJP candidate, Baisahab Yadav, bagged 68,684, an official said. Counting of votes began in the morning with the BJP leading in the first round. However, the Congress candidate surged ahead from second round onwards and maintained the lead till the seventh round. Baisahab Yadav again caught up and left his opponent behind between the 12 to 15th rounds. In the last round, the Congress managed to gain a lead again, retaining the seat. Notably, the Congress had won the seat by a margin of 20,765 votes in the previous election. The bypoll, held on February 24, was necessitated due to the death of Congress's MLA Mahendra Singh Kalukheda.
Congress has won the Mungaoli seat, according to sources. An official confirmation is still awaited from the Election Commission. Congress candidate Brijendra Singh Yadav defeated BJP's Baai Sahab Yadav by a margin of by 2,107 votes. In Kolaras, the Congress lead was 4,000 votes after 14 rounds of counting. Sources claim that the counting has finished here too, and the results will be announced soon.
After rounds 13, 14 and 15 went to the BJP in Mungaoli, Congress has again taken the lead in the 16th round of counting. The overall lead of Congress in Mungaoli is now 2,985 votes. Meanwhile, the Congress head office in Bhopal is already in celebration mode. Party workers are throw colours at each other, beating drums and distributing sweets. “The celebrations are not premature. We have worked there for 3.5 months and know the minute details of the fight,” Scindia loyalist and young leader Krishna Ghatge said.
After 14 rounds of counting, the Congress lead in Mungaoli constituency has been reduced to 3,222 votes from the close to 5,000 vote lead it enjoyed after the thirteenth round. In Kolaras, it is still a neck and neck battle between the two parties as the margin is just 288 votes in the favour of Congress.
In a setback to Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Congress candidate Brijendra Singh Yadav has received more votes than BJP's Baaisaab Yadav in Mungaoli constituency's Sehrai village. Congress is leading by 3,602 in Mungaoli and by 3,328 votes in Kolaras after tenth round of counting. While BJP has 34,106 votes, Congress has receives 37,708 in Mungaoli. Mungaoli's Sehrai is a village where CM Chouhan had visited four times during campaigning. He had also announced a degree college in the area. On the other hand, BJP candidate trailed behind Congress's Mahendra Singh Yadav in village Rijada which hosted CM Shivraj's public meeting. Interestingly, the BJP had organised a 'magic show' to win support during the meeting. CM Shivraj has primarily focussed on Mungaoli seat, which also seems to be slipping away from the saffron party.
After the eighth round of counting, Congress is leading by 3,392 in Mungaoli and by 2,609 in Kolaras. Ahead of the bypolls, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had assumed the reins of campaigning for the BJP, while former Union ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, party's state unit chief Arun Yadav and Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh were among those on the campaign trail for Congress. Earlier, the Election Commission of India had also advised Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to be more careful while making speeches. The directive came on a complaint filed by the Congress party that the Chief Minister made an announcement on February 16, although the Model Code of Conduct had been in force in Mungaoli.
"We have put up spirited fight in Kolaras and Mungaoli. Let the results come. Both have been Congress seats," Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said as Congress leads by 2,652 in Mungaoli after sixth round of counting. Earlier, addressing Dhakad community in Kolaras, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's son Kartikey had hit out at Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia for calling the CM a "Kaurava", a reference to the Mahabharata's primary antagonist Duryodhana and his band of brothers. This is low-level politics and the people will give a befitting reply, he had said. Both the parties had carried out high-decibel campaigns in Kolaras with Scindia and former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria leading the Congress charge while over a dozen MP ministers pitching in for the BJP.
As the close fight between Congress and BJP continues in MP bypolls, senior Congress MLA Bala Bachchan says in the Assembly that public has "given them thanks in Kolaras and Mungaoli" when state minister Gopal Bhargav sought Opposition's vote of thanks. Bachchan was referring to the trend of results in the byelections where Congress is leading by 2,197 votes in Mungaoli and by 2,142 votes in Kolaras after fifth round of counting as the close fight continues between both the parties. During road shows Scindia had hit at the ruling party in the state and accused the state government of ignoring the region for last 14 years. On the other hand, the Chief Minister had credited his party for bringing development in the state.
Meanwhile, several Congress MLA are missing from the MP Assembly as Shivraj Chouhan's cabinet, including the CM, is presenting the budget in the assembly. The inaugural sitting Budget Session was adjourned for the day amid uproar by Congress MLAs. Assembly Speaker Sitasharan Sharma adjourned the sitting for the day on Monday after he was unable to conduct the proceedings in view of the continued ruckus by opposition Congress over various issues. The month-long session commenced in Bhopal with the address of Governor Anandiben Patel. However, the Congress legislators had created ruckus over the farmer's issue and the continuing water crisis.
Congress is still leading after three rounds of counting in bypolls in MP. It is maintaining the lead by 1,330 votes after fourth round of counting in Mungaoli, BJP follows closely. However, the counting is said to be progressing at an extremely slow pace at both the seats. Today's results could have an impact in the assembly elections which is scheduled to be held later this year. Chouhan has been going all out to woo back farmers. Being an OBC leader, Chouhan thrives on backward classes’ support and the Congress is eyeing to make inroads into this group. It holds around 50% representation, in terms of population, in Madhya Pradesh. The outcome of the by-elections for the two Assembly constituencies is expected to decide the course of upcoming assembly elections in the state both within ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress. Congress leaders off the record accept that the party has always fought elections regionally under respective leaders who come together after the polls.
Among Congress party seniors, Scindia enjoys undisputed followership in Gwalior-Chambal belt. Party president Rahul Gandhi is known to favour younger faces and is fond of Scindia, 47. For Chouhan, sources say, the by-elections have become reduced to a show of strength ahead of Assembly elections. For wooing Kirars, a dominant community in Kolaras, which he also represents, Chouhan also roped in his elder son Kartikeya to pitch for the party in one of the functions early in January, sources said. A win will help help him reassure his authority which has been on slippery ground after farmers’ crisis, corruption charges on ministers, Vyapam scam and on lapses in development front, they added. As a section of the state unit of the BJP believes that if it fails to win, it would be fourth successive loss, after defeats in Chitrakoot and Ater bypolls, and could compel the party’s high command to drastic measures.
Both Congress and BJP tried to play up their family cards during campaigning for the byelections. While state Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Yashodhara Raje was seeking votes in Kolaras constituency by invoking the legacy of her mother late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia, a formidable BJP doyen, Jyotiraditya was referring to his late father Madhavrao Scindia's contribution in the development of the area. Yashodhara Raje hit the hustings with the promise of development and is appealing to people to vote for her loyalist Devendra Jain. "If you vote for Jain, you will get 1+1 MLA (one for free)," she said during campaigning. Jain had won Kolaras in 2008. However, Congress' Ram Singh Yadav snatched the seat from the BJP in 2013 polls. Sanjay Sharma, a social worker based in Shivpuri-Gwalior who had witnessed elections in the area for the last four decades, said, "Normally, Scindia family members never campaign against each other and avoid face-to-face contest despite being in different parties". However, a perception is growing that Yashodhara Raje and Jyotiraditya are campaigning against each other, in a departure from convention.
In the run-up for bypolls, Madhya Pradesh’s commerce minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia had earlier threatened voters in Kolaras constituency to vote for the BJP candidate in the byelections or forget about receiving benefits of any government scheme. Her comments had stirred a row and the Congress had approached the Election Commission against Raje for violating the model code of conduct by threatening voters. Addressing a public meeting, Raje had said that the people of Kolaras would remain backward if they do not elect the BJP candidate. “Because if you elect the Congress candidate and he comes to me with your issues, I won’t talk to him, and I am the minister. My ministry will not do his work,” she said. The BJP had fielded Raje for campaigning to nullify the impact of Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia in the seat that Congress had won in the last two elections.
Earlier, the opposition Congress had alleged that voters’ list is being fudged ahead of the by-elections in Kunagoli and Kolaras. The Congress had complained to the Election Commission of India. The Congress delegation, which had approached the poll panel, maintained that there were 20,000 fake voters in the Mungali and Kolaras. Following the complaint, the chief electoral officer of Madhya Pradesh transferred the collector of Ashoknagar BS Jamod. The Chief Electoral Officer had also shunted four administrative officers over charges of improper discharge of duties in Mumgaoli constituency, part of Ashoknagar district.
Congress's lead surges to 1,381 votes in Mungaoli after third round of counting, while it's leading by 766 in Kolaras. A win would bolster a Scindia-led Congress challenge during the Assembly polls as these victories could offer the Congress perfect platform to rejuvenate, regroup and counter the BJP with full vigour. Congress had won both Kolaras and Mungaoli seats in 2013 and the by-elections are now being pegged as a parameter that would help gauge the general mood in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the Assembly elections due later this year. With 30,000 Yadavs holding the key in Kolaras, Congress had no other choice but bring up late MLA Prem Singh’s son Mahendra Singh Yadav as a candidate. On the other hand, for CM Chouhan, the Kirars, a community he represents also matches up to these numbers with a population of 25,000 in this constituency.
As the counting is underway for Mungaoli and Kolaras Assembly seats, Congress' Mahendra Singh Yadav is leading by 682 votes after second round of counting in Kolaras, while the party is leading by 164 votes in Mungaoli. BJP's Mungaoli candidate Devendra Jain is yet to reach the counting site in Shivpuri. Congress's Mahendra Singh Yadav arrived there before the counting began. Although inconsequential in terms of the strength in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the results of the by-election are expected to alter political equations within both Congress and the BJP.
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Sources say the Congress is struggling to put its own house in order as the party is top heavy with many leaders vying to lead it in the Madhya Pradesh elections.
"We were saying from outset that both the seats would be won by Congress. Initial trends are precursor of Congress win. There is widespread resentment against BJP government in Madhya Pradesh," Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh said. Comgress leader Mukesh Nayak said that BJP suffered due to the "faulty policies" on farming, agriculture and youths. "Demonetisation and GST acted as catalysts. Scindia definitely swung things in our favour," he said. Jyotiraditya Scindia is an MP from Guna and son of late union minister Madhavrao Scindia and nephew of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje. His grandmother Vijaya Raje was among founder members of BJP.
Among prominent issues in Madhya Pradesh, Hardik listed Vyapam scam, farmers’ plight and non-implementation of 27% reservation despite Supreme Court order on the top of his list. He also talked about unemployment, employees’ issues and the Punjab National Bank scam. The PAAS leader also took on the government over firing on agitating farmers in Mandsaur, illegal mining and malnutrition among kids. “This is the state where farmers are killed and then are called drug peddlers,” he alleged. Training his guns on the governor, Hardik attacking her statement defending PM Narendra Modi’s pakoda (fritters) comment. “Why doesn’t Anandiben, her son and daughter also start selling pakodas (fritters),” he said.
Earlier, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, while addressing the media before holding the Samajik Chetna rally, had said that the fight in Madhya Pradesh was not between BJP and Congress but the ruling party against the citizens. “Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh is called Mama (uncle) but we don’t want a Shakuni Mama. We want a Mama who talks about our interests and our development,” he said. Patel also claimed that efforts were being made to prevent his visits to Madhya Pradesh, but said he would repeatedly come to the state, regardless. Last year, Patel had tried to meet the families of farmers who were killed in police firing in Mandsaur but was detained before he could reach the trouble-torn town.
On February 24, Mungaoli and Kolaras recorded a voters' turnover of 77.05 and 70.4 percent, respectively. The voting percentage, however, did not give any hint as to where the pendulum would swing. The bypolls are widely seen as Shivraj v/s Scindia fight. The results are the last opportunity for a show of strength for the two parties before they lock horns later this year for the Assembly election. While the BJP has not given any signs as to what it expects from the bypolls, Congress is already gearing up for celebrations. The region falls under erstwhile Scindia princely state.
Riding on mass support base of MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Congress is hoping for wins in both seats while the ruling BJP is hoping that three-time Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has enough left in the tank to pull through in the by-elections. If insiders in both parties are to be believed, the Congress has emerged as the clear favourite for both seats. “The BJP failed to rein in its internal discontent which could make it pay heavily in the results,” a political analyst said. The analyst said that a big loss for the BJP could set off alarm bells in the party, especially after it lost three by-elections in Rajasthan recently. He said that the desperation exhibited by the Shivraj government during the campaign was another evidence of the political undercurrents in the region.
The counting of votes for Mungaoli and Kolaras Assembly seats is underway. Congress' Mahendra Singh Yadav is ahead of BJP's Devendra Jain by 832 votes in Kolaras and Congress' Brijendra Singh Yadav is leading BJP's Bai Sahib by 31 votes in Mungaoli. The results are the last opportunity for a show of strength for the two parties before they lock horns later this year for the Assembly election. While the BJP has not given any signs as to what it expects from the by-elections, Congress is already gearing up for celebrations.
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