BHOPAL: Ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, retained Khandwa Lok Sabha seat, though with a reduced margin compared to 2019 polls, and wrested Prithvipur and Jobat (ST) assembly constituencies from Congress but lost Raigaon (SC) segment to the opposition party, as per the results of the bypolls declared by Election Commission.

In nutshell, Congress lost both the seats- Jobat (SC) and Prithvipur- held by it before the bypolls but managed to avoid a whitewash by wresting Raigaon (ST) segment from the saffron party.

Of the four seats for which byelections were held on Saturday, the Khandwa constituency and Raigaon Assembly seat were earlier held by BJP, while Jobat and Prithvipur segments were with Congress.

In Khandwa, BJP candidate Gyaneshwar Patil defeated his nearest Congress rival and former MLA Rajnarayan Singh Purni, by a margin of 82,140 votes, a poll official said.

Patil got 6,32,455 votes, while Purni bagged 5,50,315 ballots.

The BJP had fielded Patil, a former district panchayat president, by denying a ticket to Harshvardhan Chauhan, the son of sitting BJP MP Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, whose death necessitated the bypoll.

Chauhan had won polls from the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat six times — in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2014 and 2019 – and was a credible face of the party in the Nimar region.

Though the victory in Khandwa was on the expected lines, the victory margin of the BJP was reduced to 82,140 from 2,73,343 in 2019.

In the Prithvipur assembly seat in the Niwari district, Congress nominee Nitendra Singh Rathore went down fighting against BJP’s Shishupal Yadav, who won by a margin of 15,687 votes.

Yadav bagged 82,673 votes and Rathore 66,986, another official said.

Rathore is the son of the sitting Congress MLA and former minister Brajendra Singh Rathore, whose death due to coronavirus necessitated the bypoll.

On the other hand, BJP banked on Yadav, who joined the saffron party by switching over from the Samajwadi Party recently.

The BJP also wrested Jobat (ST) Assembly constituency in the Alirajpur district from Congress with the saffron party candidate Sulochana Rawat defeating her nearest rival Mahesh Patel by a margin of 6,104 votes.

Rawat has polled 68,949 votes while Patel managed to secure 62,845 votes, officials added.

Rawat, a former MLA from Congress and tribal face, had joined BJP ahead of the bypoll.

She had won the Jobat seat when she was in Congress in the 1998 and 2008 assembly polls.

The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of sitting Congress MLA Kalavati Bhuria.

Congress candidate from Raigaon (SC) seat in the Satna district, Kalpana Verma, defeated her nearest rival from BJP, Pratima Bagri, by a margin of 12,290 votes.

Verma has polled 72,989 votes and Bagri 60,699, an Election Commission official said.

Bagri is the daughter-in-law of late MLA Jugal Kishore Bagri, who had represented Raigaon twice in 2008 and 2018.

Reacting to the outcome of the bypolls, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the victory is amazing and unprecedented.

“BJP won the Jobat Assembly seat, where 90 per cent of voters belonged to scheduled tribes. We have won this seat twice in the past 70 years. We trailed in Jobat by 18,000 votes in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP’s victory on this seat is historic,” Chouhan said.

He said the victory in Jobat shows that the ST community is with the BJP and they are endorsing work done by the BJP government.

“PM Narendra Modi is a global leader. People have faith in him. People love him and they looked towards him with reverence. This is a victory of his work and support towards him. This is a victory of BJP and its workers besides the works done by the state government,” he said.

On the other hand, former chief minister and MP Congress president Kamal Nath said, “We respect the mandate of the people and will review it”.

Nath alleged BJP had misused the official machinery and also money and muscle power to win the bypolls.

He congratulated Kalpana Verma for defeating Bagri of BJP by a huge margin.

“We will review the results and focus on the preparations for 2023 assembly polls,” he said in a statement. 

With the victory in Khandwa, 28 out of the total 29 MPs from Madhya Pradesh are now from BJP.

Congress’ strength in the MP Assembly before the bypolls was 95 but one of its legislators Sachin Birla (MLA from Barwaha) joined the BJP during the middle of campaigning on October 24.

Birla has not yet resigned as MLA.

This means that even after winning the Raigaon (SC) seat, the number of Congress MLAs remained unchanged at 95 (excluding Birla).

The BJP’s strength will go up to 127 as the party has won two seats on Tuesday, 11 more than the simple majority mark of 116 in the 230-member House.

A total of 48 candidates were in the fray for the bypolls.