Maihar in Madhya Pradesh re-elected Narayan Tripathi its MLA Tuesday, in the process allowing the BJP to snatch the seat from the Congress. Tripathi was the Congress MLA until he switched parties, resigned from the assembly, and won the bypoll comfortably as the BJP candidate.
The victory boosted the ruling BJP’s morale after the defeat in the Lok Sabha bypoll to Ratlam, where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had campaigned extensively. Maihar is in Satna, not a BJP stronghold. Even before the date for Maihar was announced, the CM visited and announced a number of welfare measures, then addressed a slew of rallies towards the close of campaigning.
“People have risen over casteism and voted for development. The poor, farmers, members of the SCs and STs, and women voted for the BJP,” a relieved Chouhan said at Sherpur in Sehore, the venue of a farmers’ rally the PM will address Thursday.
The Maihar bypoll was a battle between turncoats. While BJP candidate Tripathi had won the seat in 2013 as the Congress candidate, current Congress candidate Manish Patel had been the BSP ticket then. In 2003, Tripathi had won the seat on an SP ticket.
It was a prestige battle for the Congress too. Former leader of the opposition Ajay Singh had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha election to Satna, of which Maihar is a segment. Blaming Tripathi for the defeat in that election, Singh had vowed to defeat him in the Maihar bypoll. The Congress has now accused the BJP of misusing official machinery and attributed the result to promises made by the CM.
Tripathi got 82,658 votes to Patel’s 54,377 votes winning by a margin of 28,281 votes. In 2013, Tripathi’s victory margin was 6,975.