The ruling Congress has wrested the Jhabua Assembly seat from the BJP in a crucial bypoll in Madhya Pradesh, improving its tally to 115 in the 230-member House.
Former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria defeated his BJP rival Bhanu Bhuria by a margin of 27,804 votes in a high-stakes battle whose outcome, according to the BJP, would have hastened the fall of the Kamal Nath government. The former PCC chief led from the first round and got 96,155 votes with his 36-year-old opponent getting 68,351 votes.
The bypoll was necessitated after BJP MLA Guman Singh Damor was elected to the Lok Sabha from Ratlam constituency. During the campaign, BJP leaders, including party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava, had stressed that the Congress’s defeat will be followed by the fall of the government.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath invited the BJP to pull down his government while suggesting the party to get its house in order in Maharashtra and Haryana. He said the BJP tried to divert people’s attention from fundamental issues by talking about Article 370 and nationalism, and that the result has confirmed that people continue to trust the Congress. He also accused the BJP of trying to mislead people on the farm loan waiver issue.
BJP chief Rakesh Singh alleged that the Congress government pressured officials and employees by assigning booth-wise targets to them in their respective areas of jurisdiction. He admitted that Jhabua has traditionally been a Congress bastion but the BJP managed to win the last Assembly election because of a Congress rebel who got substantial votes. He said the party will introspect on why it failed to communicate the failures of the government to voters.