Requiring eight seats for majority, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government had a big win in the bypolls to 28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, notching up 18 of them and leading on one seat past midnight.
Eighteen of 25 former Congress MLAs whose exit had brought down the previous Kamal Nath government registered victories, strengthening former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia’s position in the BJP camp.
The Congress won eight seats and was leading on one. The BSP, which put up candidates on all 28 seats, drew a blank.
Among the big losers on Tuesday was state Women and Child Development Minister Imarti Devi, who lost to the Congress’s Suresh Raje by 7,633 votes from Dabra constituency. A three-time MLA, Imarti Devi, against whom former CM Kamal Nath had made a derogatory remark for which he was pulled up by the Election Commission, had won the 2018 Assembly polls with a margin of 57,446 votes on a Congress ticket.
Another ex-Congress legislator, Munnalal Goyal, was trailing to the Congress candidate from Gwalior East seat by over 8,000 votes past midnight.
Adal Singh Kansana from Sumaoli and Girriaj Danddotia from Dimani – both ministers – lost.
Scindia loyalist and former state Water Resources minister Tulsiram Silawat won from Sanwer, in Indore, against staunch Scindia critic Premchand Guddu with a margin of 38,200 votes, while Prabhuram Choudhary of BJP won from Sanchi with the highest margin of 63,809.
Guddu’s supporters alleged foul play in counting and had assembled outside the counting centre in protest.
In a close contest, Congress’s Phool Singh Baraiya lost from Bhander by 161 votes. In Sumaoli, a sensitive seat where the Congress had alleged attempts at booth capturing and firing, its candidate Ajabsingh Kushwaha won by a margin of 10,947 votes.
In the seven seats of Agar-Malwa region, a stronghold of the BJP and RSS, the Congress managed to get Agar seat. The party’s Vipin Wankhede won by 1,998 votes.
Another seat that came to the Congress was Biaora, which had fallen vacant after the death of sitting MLA Govardhan Singh Dangi – Amlyahat-Ramchandra Dangi defeated BJP’s Narayansingh Panwar by over 12,000 votes here.
With 87 MLAs, the opposition party needed to win at least 23 to remain in the game – and emerge victorious with a clean sweep to make a comeback. As the results became evident, the crowd thinned out at the party office in the state capital.
Addressing the media, state Congress president and former CM Kamal Nath said, “I accept the people’s mandate and will play the role of Opposition. We tried our best to convey our message to the people and hope that the BJP government will continue welfare schemes for the poor, provide jobs to the youth, and ensure security for women.”