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MP Bypolls: Scindia Wins Prestige Battle Against Chouhan as Congress Retains Both Seats

With the BJP recently losing all the three by-polls in Rajasthan, these elections were being closely observed and the neck-and-neck fight till the very end did not make it a dull affair.

Vivek Trivedi | News18.com

Updated:February 28, 2018, 10:53 PM IST
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MP Bypolls: Scindia Wins Prestige Battle Against Chouhan as Congress Retains Both Seats
Congress party workers celebrate the party's victory in Kolaras and Mungaoli state assembly by-elections at the party's state headquarters in Bhopal on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)
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Bhopal: The Congress on Wednesday defeated the BJP in the by-election to both Mungaoli and Kolaras assembly seats but the victory was not as cut and dried as it had previously projected.

In celebration mode since Tuesday, the Congress found itself embroiled in a keenly contested battle but managed to retain both seats at the end. While it won Mungaoli with a slender margin of 2,142 votes, there was more breathing room in Kolaras with a margin of over 8,000 votes.

The by-polls were necessitated due to the death of Congress MLAs Mahendra Singh Kalukheda (Mungaoli in Ashoknagar district) and Ram Singh Yadav (Kolaras in Shivpuri district). With the BJP recently losing all the three by-polls in Rajasthan, these elections were being closely observed and the neck-and-neck fight till the very end did not make it a dull affair.

At Mungaoli, BJP's Baaisaheb Yadav had taken an early lead over Congress candidate Brajendra Singh Yadav. However, the Congress candidate surged ahead from second round onwards and maintained the lead till the seventh round. The BJP candidate again caught up and left his opponent behind between rounds 12 and 15. In the last round, the Congress managed to gain a lead once again.

While the Congress candidate bagged 70,808 votes, the BJP nominee polled 68,684. Notably, the Congress had won the seat by a margin of 20,765 votes in the 2015 assembly election.

The fight was equally intense in Shivpuri's Kolaras, where Congress' Mahendra Singh Yadav had gained a lead since the first round but BJP's Devendra Jain kept bouncing back in the later stages. After around 13 hours of grueling counting, Yadav emerged victorious by over 8,000 votes.

"It's a victory of public against brazen misuse of power, muscle and money," Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia said, crediting the voters, senior leaders and party workers for the success.

Dodging queries on whether it was an endorsement of his leadership claim in MP, Scindia stated that he reckons himself a small-time fighter of Congress who wholeheartedly accepts any responsibility entrusted on him by the party.

He also accused the BJP of using all possible means to win these by-elections.

BJP leaders, including state head Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, on the other hand, took pride in the fact that the party managed to reduce the lead of Congress candidates sizeably as compared to the 2013 polls.

Earlier in the day, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that both the seats were Congress citadels as the party had won here with hefty margins even as the BJP achieved a thumping win across the state. He also hinted that BSP’s move to not field any candidates helped the Congress.

The Congress offices in Bhopal, Ashoknagar and Mungaoli erupted in celebrations since the afternoon despite their candidates being engaged in tough fight.

Since the last assembly election, there have been 14 by-polls, of which Congress has won five. Interestingly, four of these wins came in the last one year. It had previously won the Ater and Chitrakoot bypolls.

Political analysts believe that these wins would bolster Scindia's demand to be projected as the Congress CM face, while the losses would only dent CM Shivraj's authority within the BJP ahead of the crucial assembly polls.
| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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