The high decibel campaign for the November 3 bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, which saw prominent leaders of the BJP and the Congress criss-crossing constituencies to woo voters, came to an end on Sunday evening. The campaigning for the crucial by-elections, which have been scheduled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saw bitterness between the main rivals BJP and Congress with leaders from both the sides hurling charges and barbs at each other.
Leaders of the ruling BJP, opposition Congress and the BSP made all out efforts to win over voters ahead of the bypolls, in which 355 candidates, including 12 state ministers, are in the fray. In most of the seats, there is a direct fight between the BJP and Congress, while in two or three seats of Gwalior Chambal region, a triangular contest is on the cards in the wake of the BSP's presence there, political observers said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, former state CM Uma Bharti, BJP Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia, among others, made hectic efforts to drum up support for their party's nominees. On the other side, MP Congress president and former CM Kamal Nath, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh and senior party leader from Rajasthan Sachin Pilot also toured the state to woo the voters for their party candidates.
With charges and counter-charges flying thick and fast, the Election Commission had to reprimand leaders of both the Congress and BJP over their sarcastic comments against each other. The EC revoked Kamal Nath's 'star campaigner' status for violations of the model code during the campaign following which the Congress leader moved the Supreme Court on Saturday.
While a political party pays for the expenditure of a star campaigner, an individual candidate pays for the expenditure of other campaigners. The EC referred to Kamal Nath's remarks against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
He had used the words "mafia" and "milawat khor" against a political rival at a recent campaigning event. Last week, the EC had asked Nath not to use words like "item" in campaigning. He had used the jibe to hit out at state minister and BJP candidate Imarti Devi at a rally.
During the electioneering, some Congress leaders called the rebel MLAs and Scindia as 'gaddars' (traitors) for quitting the party in March, leading to the fall of the Kamal Nath-led government. Hitting back, BJP leaders including Scindia accused state Congress leaders of being traitors for not waiving off farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh after making the promise to farmers before the December 2018 state Assembly polls.
Scindia also alleged that Kamal Nath used the epithet "dog" for him. The Congress, however, denied the allegation, saying that Nath never used the word.
For the first time in the history of Madhya Pradesh, 28 Assembly seats in the 230-member House are going to bypolls in one go. By-elections to 25 of these seats were necessitated as their Congress MLAs resigned and joined the BJP. They are in the fray as BJP candidates in 25 seats.
In the remaining three Assembly segments, bypolls are being held due to demise of the sitting legislators. A few days back, one more Congress MLA resigned.
The BJP currently has 107 MLAs, while the Congress has 87 legislators in the House. The counting of votes for the bypolls will take place on November 10.
On the other hand, campaigning for the November 3 bypolls to the eight Assembly seats in Gujarat ended on Sunday evening as well, with both the major political parties- the ruling BJP as well as the opposition Congress- claiming to make a clean sweep. Bypolls to Abdasa, Limbdi, Morbi, Dhari, Gadhada, Karjan, Dang and Kaprada were necessitated after sitting MLAs quit the Congress and the Assembly, five of them joining the BJP later.
For the BJP, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, state unit chief C R Paatil, Union ministers Smriti Irani, Mansukh Mandaviya and Purshottam Rupala campaigned. Paatil addressed rallies in four seats, while Irani campaigned for Morbi Assembly candidate Brijesh Merja who had quit Congress to join the BJP.
For the Congress, the campaign workload was shared by state working president Hardik Patel, who toured all eight seats extensively, and Amit Chavda, Paresh Dhanani, Arjun Modhwadiya, Siddharth Patel, Tushar Chaudhry and Manish Doshi. Its Gujarat in-charge Rajeev Satav addressed rallies in four seats.
The BJP has fielded Pradyumnsinh Jadeja from Abdasa, Kiritsinh Rana from Limbdi, Brijesh Merja from Morbi, J V Kakadiya from Dhari, Atmaram Parmar from Gadhada, Akshay Patel from Karjan, Vijay Patel from Dang and Jitubhai Chaudhary for Kaprada. They are up against the Congress' Shantilal Sendhani (Abdasa), Chetan Khachar (Limbdi), Jayantilal Patel (Morbi), Suresh Kotadiya (Dhari), Mohan Solanki (Gadhada), Kiritsinh Jadeja (Karjan), Suryakant Gavit (Dang) and Babubhai Patel (Kaprada).
A total of 81 candidates are in the fray for the eight seats, including 51 independents, with Limbdi leading with 14 candidates and Kaprada, a Scheduled Tribe-reserved seat, at the other end with just four. Twelve candidates each are in the fray from Morbi and Gadhada, 11 from Dhari, 10 in Abdasa, and nine each in Karjan and Dang.
The Bharatiya Tribal Party has fielded two candidates on Dang, an ST-reserved seat, and Karjan. Parties like Bahujan Maha Party, Bahujan Mukti Party, Bharatiya Jana Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Rajarya Sabha, All India Majlish-e-Inqulab-e-Millat, Rashtravadi Jana Chetna, Yuva Jan Jagruti, Vyavastha Parivartan Party, and Rashtriya Jankranti Party have also fielded a few candidates.
The counting of votes will be held November 10.