MP passes PM’s cash test, BJP wins state by-elections | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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MP passes PM’s cash test, BJP wins state by-elections

Delivering a blow to the Congress in its first test of electoral popularity after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise, the BJP managed to retain the Shahdol Lok Sabha seat as well as the Nepanagar assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh.

bhopal Updated: Nov 23, 2016 07:53 IST
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan offering sweets to each other at the party head office in Bhopal on Tuesday.
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan offering sweets to each other at the party head office in Bhopal on Tuesday. (Mujeeb Faruqui/HT photo)

Delivering a blow to the Congress in its first test of electoral popularity after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise, the BJP managed to retain the Shahdol Lok Sabha seat as well as the Nepanagar assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh.

The results of the bypolls to the two constituencies, both reserved for scheduled tribe candidates, were announced on Tuesday. Polling was carried out on November 19.

The BJP’s Shahdol win, however, was not as emphatic as its victory two years ago. Even though it won the seat with a margin of 60,383 seats, the difference was over 2.4 lakh at the height of the Modi wave. While BJP candidate Gyan Singh – the tribal and scheduled caste welfare minister – polled 4,81,398 votes, the Congress’ Himadri Singh secured 4,21,015.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, BJP candidate Dalpat Singh Paraste had polled 5.25 lakh votes against his nearest rival – Himadri’s mother Nandini Singh – who managed just 2.84 lakh. Paraste’s death had facilitated this bypoll.

However, the BJP scored a comfortable win in the Nepanagar assembly constituency, where its candidate – Manju Dadu – defeated her closest rival, Congressman Antar Singh Barde, by 42,198 votes. While she polled 99,626 votes, Barde had to remain content with 57,428.

“The Congress has no answer to CM Shivraj’s popularity. The Congress does not exist in Madhya Pradesh anymore,” tweeted BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayavargiya.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, for his part, congratulated voters of both the constituencies as well as party workers. “The people’s unflinching faith in the BJP’s principles and policies gives us new energy. The dream of all-round development in Madhya Pradesh will definitely be achieved,” he said on Twitter.

BJP followers seemed to agree with him. “This was the people’s mandate for the Prime Minister’s demonetisation scheme,” said Akash Singh, a young voter from Shahdol.

The Congress had expected the people’s suffering due to the demonetisation move, which resulted in the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, to work in its favour in the state.

It had become a major issue in the state, pushing the killing of eight SIMI operatives in a police encounter on October 31 onto the backburner. The resultant financial meltdown had even given the jitters to BJP leaders who had sought to cash in on the SIMI encounter.

At least six people died across the state due to the alleged effect of demonetisation, and many continue to queue up for long hours in front of rural banks and ATMs even now. An anxious Chouhan had been announcing at every election meeting that he would ensure the exchange of `500 and `1,000 notes through banks across the state.

The chief minister had been frequenting the Shahdol Lok Sabha constituency for the last four months, and laid foundation stones for several development schemes worth over `600 crore ahead of the bypoll notification.

The Congress also made all-out efforts to win the Shahdol, getting party MPs Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath to lead its campaign.