After a slew of electoral defeats in assembly by-polls, the Congress party is pinning its hopes of revival in Madhya Pradesh on two by-elections where votes will be cast on November 21.
While the by-election for the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by the death of incumbent BJP MP Dileep Singh Bhuria, demise of Tukoji Rao Puar, scion of Dewas royal family, has led to the assembly by-poll in Dewas.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, in an attempt to cash in on a “possible” sympathy wave for the family of deceased leaders, has fielded Bhuria’s daughter and sitting MLA from Petlawad Nirmala Bhuria and Tukojirao Puar’s wife Gayatri Raje. However, according to senior leaders who have visited the two constituencies, there was no sympathy wave in either of the two constituencies.
The Congress concedes that winning in Dewas would not be easy because of the royal family’s influence in the area, and therefore it is concentrating on the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat, where it’s smelling victory.
On the other hand, the BJP expressed confidence that the party will retain both seats.
“We know Dewas would be difficult. The royal family has a kind of impact on the seat that it’s not easy to wrest it from the Puar family, but we are strong in Ratlam-Jhabua and confident of victory. Now that Deepawali is over, party leaders are converging here to ensure victory in the by-poll,” said a party leader over phone from Ratlam-Jhabua, where several state Congress leaders are currently camping.
From Saturday onwards, top leadership of the Congress would also begin addressing public rallies in the constituency with chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia slated to address public meetings at Petlawad and Ratlam on Saturday, followed by Sanjay Nirupam and Kamalnath.
“We intend to be here till November 19, the final day of campaigning. Party state president Arun Yadav and in-charge of party affairs in MP Mohan Prakash are also here and a lot many leaders. We are winning the seat,” said the party’s state chief spokesperson KK Mishra. “A lot has changed since 2014. In 2014, even the tallest of Congress leaders had lost under the impact of the Modi wave but the situation is no longer the same.”
While Mishra said the Petlawad blast and the absconding accused was going to impact the results because “Nirmala Bhuria represents Petlawad in the state assembly,” BJP state spokesperson Dr Hitesh Vajpayee said it would not have any impact as the government took immediate steps to provide relief to affected persons.