The ruling BJP won two seats and the Congress one in Madhya Pradesh but the opposition party appeared to have drawn more comfort from the results. After a series of reversals, including the drubbing in the assembly and general elections, the Congress was so demoralised that the top leadership had clearly not expected much from the byelections, having kept pointing out that the ruling party had thrown its might behind the candidates.
The Congress and the BJP exchanged a pair of seats while the BJP retained the third. The Congress wrested Bahoriband from the BJP. After the death of BJP legislator Prabhat Pandey, the party fielded his son Pranav while the Congress chose Saurabh Singh, who had defected from the BSP. Singh won by just under 8,000 votes.
The loss was a jolt for the BJP because it had anticipated a sweep and planned a grand welcome Monday for its new state president, Nandkumar Chouhan. The new chief was to move into the headquarters as part of a procession from the railway station but the party cancelled the celebrations citing the temple tragedy in Satna and a road accident.
Mining businessman Sanjay Pathak had won Vijayraghavgarh in the last election on a Congress ticket but he defected to the BJP ahead of the general elections. Pathak won by an impressive 53,397 votes against Vijendra Mishra of the Congress.
The BJP’s Gopal Parmar too won easily, against Congress’s Rajkumar Gore by 27,702 votes in Agar. The seat fell vacant after sitting BJP MLA Manohar Untwal became an MP.
The bypolls were held with CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s image under a cloud for the MPPEB scam, an issue the Opposition had failed to exploit in the assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.