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MP Bypolls: Shivraj vs Scindia Semifinal to Pave Way for Bigger Poll Battles Ahead

The two constituencies of Kolaras and Mungaoli in Madhya Pradesh will vote on Saturday and while the results will be announced on February 28.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:February 24, 2018, 8:13 AM IST
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MP Bypolls: Shivraj vs Scindia Semifinal to Pave Way for Bigger Poll Battles Ahead
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia with Kamal Nath and tribal leader Kantilal Bhuria take part in a road show before public meeting ahead of Kolaras bypoll, in Madhya Pradesh. (PTI Photo)
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Bhopal: The outcome of the by-elections for the two Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh is expected to decide the course of upcoming assembly elections in the state both within ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress.

The two constituencies of Kolaras and Mungaoli will vote on Saturday and while the results will be announced on February 28.

Even before the bypoll scheduled was announced by Election Commission for both the seats held by Congress MLAs, BJP led by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Congress by Jyotiraditya Scindia were already engaged in poll preparations.

Sources said that the election was important for Scindia as both Assembly seats are in his parliamentary constituency of Guna so it has become an issue of prestige for him that party win them. Apart from this, the bypoll comes at a time when the Scindia scion has been pushing his case to be the party’s CM face so winning both the seats are important for his cause.

Defeats at any of these seats could seriously hamper his claim to the top post and would bolster the case of AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh and state head Arun Yadav.

For Chouhan, sources say, the by-elections have become reduced to a show of strength ahead of Assembly elections.

As a result, he has led the party into a high voltage campaign in an area known to be Scindia’s stronghold. He did everything which could help him win including announcing a slew of sops, inducting Gwalior-based Narayan Singh Kushwah into his cabinet, making several tours of the constituencies, having night stays in villages, promising turnaround on development front in next five months and so on.

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. Ouster of state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, Chouhan’s close aide, could well be one of the major fallouts.

Furthermore, a win would also 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.

Stakes were high on these polls and the political drama after campaigning ended on Thursday highlighted this.

Kushwah, BJP’s Bhind MLA, was gheraoed by Congress workers who accused him of carrying cash to bribe voters in Kolaras, the police intervened and lathicharged them. The Congress Alleged that their candidate was injured in the police action.

As a result, Suresh Sharma, SHO of the local police station was shunted on Friday. Congress has complained to Election Commission in New Delhi and Bhopal.

BJP too retaliated by issuing pictures of Congress candidate Brijendra Yadav giving money to voters and lodged complaint with the EC. Meanwhile, police on Friday detained BJP MLA Shailendra Jain from Mungaoli village for staying in the region after the campaigning concluded.
| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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