The BJP Tuesday retained Shahdol Lok Sabha and Nepanagar Assembly seats in the by-elections in Madhya Pradesh, defeating the Congress which had brought to the campaign the demonetisation issue along with local themes against the ruling party.
In Shahdol (ST), BJP’s Gyan Singh defeated Himadri Singh of Congress by a comfortable margin of over 60,000 votes, belying the latter’s hopes of wresting the seat to add to the party’s tally in the Lok Sabha. Gyan Singh bagged 4,81,398 votes while his Congress rival polled 4,21,015 votes, an election official said.
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The BJP’s victory margin, however, fell substantially from 2,41,301 in the 2014 general elections in Shahdol. The BJP also defended the Nepanagar Assembly seat where its contestant Manju Dadu trounced nearest Congress rival Antar Singh Barde by a margin of 42,198 votes. The ruling party sharply increased its winning margin in Nepanagar to 42,198 votes as against 22,178 in the 2013 Assembly polls.
The Shahdol LS bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJP’s Dalpat Singh Paraste, who had wrested the seat for his party from Congress’ Rajesh Nandini Singh in 2014. Taking it as a prestigious battle, especially after its defeat in Ratlam-Jabua last year, the BJP in Shahdol fielded Gyan Singh, a tribal leader and minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan Cabinet, while the Congress put its bet on Himadri Singh.
Congress had seized on the currency scrapping issue which came by its way in the midst of the campaign, claiming that it had caused serious inconvenience to the people even in tribal-dominated areas. BJP leaders, however, exuded confidence of retaining both the ST seats, arguing that the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes would not affect the party’s prospects.
Chouhan himself had campaigned in Shahdol to ensure his party’s victory as he considered it crucial to defend the seat after its failure to retain the Ratlam-Jhabua LS constituency in a bypoll held in November last year.