The victory of the Congress in the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha by-election on Tuesday has come as a shock for chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The by-election was seen as a barometer of the ruling BJP’s popularity amidst a growing farm crisis and a devastating explosion that killed 80 people in Petlawad.
By-poll was seen as a contest between Chouhan and Kantilal Bhuria
Congress candidate and former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria’s victory with a margin of more than 88,800 votes, will personally hurt Chouhan, who camped in the constituency for more than a week, addressing a series of rallies along with a dozen of his cabinet colleagues and party leaders. The by-poll was seen as a contest between Chouhan and Kantilal Bhuria.
Congratulating Kantilal Bhuria on his victory, Chouhan tweeted: “We accept the mandate in the by-polls with all humility and respect it. We are committed to development of Ratlam-Jhabua area.
“We will not spare any stone unturned for uplifting our tribal brothers and sisters and fulfilling their dreams.”
According to BJP leaders, the party’s drubbing in Ratlam was a reflection of the public anger against its lawmakers from the district, which had been a Congress bastion till 2014 when it was swept away in the Narendra Modi wave with BJP’s Dilip Singh Bhuria defeating Kantilal Bhuria.
The party had fielded Nirmala Bhuria, daughter of Dilip Singh Bhuria, whose death necessitated the by-elections. She was a weak candidate in comparison, some of the BJP leaders said.
Slashing of funds for Centre-sponsored schemes had annoyed panchayat members
The slashing of funds for Centre-sponsored schemes like MNGRA, too had annoyed panchayat members in villages across the constituency, hit by the drought in the region amidst a growing farm crisis, led to the BJP’s defeat.
The party, banking on a sympathy wave, failed to capitalize on it, they said.
Modi no longer has appeal with the masses: Arun Yadav
State Congress chief Arun Yadav said the Ratlam result proved beyond doubt that Modi no longer had appeal with the masses.
In the 2014 LS elections, the Congress could retain only 2 seats — Guna and Chhindwara — represented by Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath respectively while fighting against the Modi wave, when the BJP won 27 seats in Madhya Pradesh.
With the victory in Ratlam, the Congress’ MP tally in the state has gone up from two to three, taking its strength in the Lok Sabha from 44 to 45.
Kantilal Bhuria, who had represented the constituency for four consecutive terms, lost the 2014 elections by more than one lakh votes. The crushing defeat in the largely tribal-dominated constituency, made the BJP’s victory in Dewas assembly by-elections a non-event.