MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday lost no opportunity in telling people that the BJP victory in the recently concluded urban bodies polls was a rejection of the Vyapam allegations levelled on him by the Congress.
The CM, however, is aware that another electoral challenge awaits him in the near future; and he is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that he overcomes that challege too.
Sources close to Chouhan said that he has taken by-election, slated to be held in Ratlam (ST) Lok Sabha constituency, formerly the Jhabua Lok Sabha constituency, as a challenge.
The seat has been a Congress bastion and has been won by the BJP only once — in 2014 — by former Congressman Dilip Singh Bhuria, who later shifted to the BJP and whose demise in June has necessitated the bypoll.
Aware that a BJP defeat in Ratlam will be magnified by his detractors, the CM is almost on a campaign trail with frequent visits to Ratlam and announcements for schemes and projects being made by him on every trip.
Though the date for the by-elections has not been announced, sources in the election commission said it is likely to be held with the Bihar elections in October. Former Union minister Kanti Lal Bhuria of the Congress is expecting to make a comeback to Parliament through the by-election.
The Ratlam Lok Sabha election will be clubbed with the Dewas assembly by-election.
While a BJP victory is a foregone conclusion in Dewas — the incumbent MLA late Tukaji Rao Puar was popular — the party realises it has to fight hard to win Ratlam.
The importance the CM is attaching to the election is amply clear by the four trips he has made to areas that fall within the Ratlam (ST) constituency in last fortnight.
The CM attended late Dilip Singh Bhuria’s 13th day ceremony in Jhabua, a programme in Jhabua to disburse benefits of government schemes and a programme to honour freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad in Bhabhra.
On Thursday last, the CM was in Alirajpur to carry out bhumipujan of a `528 crore Narmada link irrigation scheme aimed at providing water to arid areas of the constituency.
He later addressed a public meeting at Sondwa. On Wednesday, the CM would visit Ratlam town and Sailana, both assembly constituencies under the Lok Sabha seat.
“Officials in the CM secretariat are working continuously with district officials in Jhabua, Alirajpur and Ratlam, the three districts, which include areas under the Lok Sabha constituency, collecting details about works done by the state government and projects and schemes that are pending,” said a source.