After the drubbing it received in last year’s assembly election and the recent Lok Sabha election, the Congress is expecting that it would improve its performance in the upcoming by-poll for the three assembly constituencies.
The party hopes that better performance in the by-poll would lift the workers’ mood as well as revive fortunes of the Congress. The silver lining for the party is that it recently won all the three seats in the Uttarakhand by-polls and also tasted success in the civic body elections at two places in Madhya Pradesh.
Of the three seats that are going to polls, the Congress fancies its chances more in Vijayraghavgarh and Bahoriband, both of which fall in Katni district. The party feel that it stands a chance in Vijayraghvagarh where BJP has fielded former Congress legislator Sanjay Pathak against Congress’ Vijendra Mishra, a former mayor.
State congress vice-president Manak Agarwal says that the party has fielded strong candidates and is hopeful of victory in the by-polls. "In Vijayraghogarh, we have a strong candidate in Vijendra Mishra and the popular sentiment is against BJP candidate Sanjay Pathak. Our candidate in Agar is also a local, which will help the party," he says.
Pathak had won on Congress ticket in the Assembly election last year and later quit the party. As a result by-poll was announced. Now, BJP has fielded him against Congress’ Vijendra Mishra. The margin of victory here in the Assembly election was just 929 and hence Congress expects that resentment against Pathak for being a turncoat may help its (Congress’) candidate Vijendra Mishra who also has substantial support in constituency. A section of BJP workers wasn’t too happy either with Pathak’s candidate.
Victory in Vijayraghogarh is also a matter of prestige for BJP. In Bahoriband, Congress has fielded Saurabh Singh against BJP’s Pranay Pandey. Singh had earlier contested on Bahujan Samaj Party ticket (BSP) and had got a good chunk of votes. The party hopes that Singh’s core votes would help consolidate Congress’ vote. The third constituency, Agar, is witnessing a contest between Congress’ Rajkumar Gore and BJP’s Gopal Parmar.
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s declaration of Agar as a district may help the BJP, feel observers. The Congress leaders have been raising the issue of PEB scam in the campaign. The success of Congress candidates in winning posts of chairmen in civic bodies in Tonk Khurd and Peepalravan has made party leaders hopeful. The by-election will take place on August 21 and the counting would take place on August 25.