Rebel BJP leader Uma Bharti’s hopes to shock the saffron party into making for peace with her were dashed as Madhya Pradesh bypoll results were announced on Thursday.
In her home constituency of Bade Maehra, where she had hoped her backward Lodh community would join hands with the Yadav, BJP candidate Kapoor Chand Ghuwara defeated her candidate Rekha Yadav by about 3,000 votes.
In December 2003 polls, Bharti had won from Malehra on BJP ticket defeating her nearest Congress rival Jagdish Shukla by over 31,000 votes.
Ghuwara, who was formerly in the CPI, had ended as the third candidate in the last election. This time, he could trounce Bharti’s nominee.
In the past eight Assembly elections since 1977, including the by-election, the BJP has managed to emerge victorious from the seat five times with or without Bharti’s support.
In another setback, BJP candidate for the Vidisha Lok Sabha seat - Madhya Pradesh Public Health and Engineering Minister Rampal Singh - defeated his Congress rival Rajshri Singh by a margin of more than 85,000 votes.
Bharti’s nominee, Raghunandan Singh came at the third place. The Vidisha result was feather in the cap for Bharti’s rival, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who had nurtured the constituency as his family borough.
Chouhan had resisted pressure from Central BJP leaders like AB Vajpayee and LK Advani to give the ticket to Varun Gandhi, and instead appointed his nominee, Rampal Singh. BJP leaders said the margin would have been much higher if Chouhan had been able to put up his wife, Sadhana.
The by-election for Vidisha, considered a BJP stronghold, was caused by Chouhan vacated the seat following his election to the state assembly.
Bharti’s supporters claimed Raghunandan Singh cost the BJP some votes. The Congress candidate managed to occupy the second postition by bagging 1.73 lakh votes. Bharti’s party, the BJS stood third with 1.37 lakh votes.
BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said the results had shown that the party and the government had the support of the masses. Asked about the combined votes of Uma Bharti's party and Congress surpassing the votes secured by the BJP, he said it was for these parties to feel ashamed or otherwise to join hands.
Bharti, who accused the BJP of “unethical” practices, showed her disappointment at the results, spurning security provided to her. Bharti, against whom two cases of attempted murder have been registered by state police in Chhatarpur, blamed the chief minister for the alleged attack on her motorcade at Shahrora village during bye-polls to the Bada Malhara assembly seat on October 30.
She had broken down while speaking to reporters in Chhatarpur, saying, "Whatever happens to me, at least take care of the people here. A few of them are very scared."