Brisk polling was witnessed on Monday for the Assembly by-elections in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua and Chhattisgarh’s Chitrakot.
Unlike Chitrakot, where the poll outcome isn’t defined by the power balance between the two parties, the Jhabua by-election has been reduced to a close contest between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP as Chief Minister Kamal Nath is more than eager to seal a win in order to inch closer to a majority in the assembly.
Presently the Congress has 114 MLAs and needs two more to gain an absolute majority. In addition to this, the election is a do-or-die battle for Congress candidate Kantilal Bhuria, who had lost in Lok Sabha polls and his son, Dr Vikrant had tasted defeat in the Assembly poll.
However, political observers believe Jhabua is no longer a Congress bastion and see the by-poll as a seesaw battle despite the BJP fielding rookie Bhanu Bhuria against the veteran leader Kantilal Bhuria, who is a five-time MP from Ratlam-Jhabua.
After casting their votes, both the Bhurias expressed confidence in clinching a victory as they underlined the achievements of their parties. The constituency saw around 25% voting by 11 pm. In Chhattisgarh’s Chitrakot voter turnout was recorded at 49% by 1 pm. Congress’ Rajman Benjam is pitted against BJP’s Lachhuram Kashyap in the by-election.
Janta Congress Chhattisgarh president Amit Jogi had tweeted a picture of a presiding officer at Booth no. 14 at Mardum, who was removed by the election commission after he accompanied a voter to the EVM.
Female voters also exercised their franchise in large numbers in the tribal-dominated constituency.
Senior journalist Dinesh Gupta said that although the Congress is in power in both the states, but wins in both the Chitrakot and Jhabua bypolls would help infuse positivity among the party’s cadres ahead of the civic body and panchayat polls. Meanwhile, he added, the BJP would try to convey a message of anti-incumbency ahead of the local body polls by securing wins.