Madhya Pradesh bypoll: Congress retains Ater and BJP Bandhavgarh

Congress's Hemant Katare won the Ater seat defeating the BJP candidate by 857 votes and BJP's Shivnarayan Singh defeated Congress's Savitri Singh by a margin of 25,476 votes in Bandhavgarh.

The BJP and Congress retained their respective seats in by-elections held at the Ater and Bandhavgarh (ST) assembly segments, results for which were announced today.

While the Congress's Hemant Katare won the Ater seat defeating the BJP's Arvind Singh Bhadoria by 857 votes in a contest that went down to the wire, in Bandhavgarh, the BJP's Shivnarayan Singh defeated the Congress's Savitri Singh by a margin of 25,476 votes.

Counting in Ater took exceptionally long and ended at around 5.30 pm with the ECI finally announcing Hemant Katare as the winner. In sharp contrast, counting at Bandhavgarh ended at around 12 pm.

Counting at Ater was marked by frequent suspensions with either the BJP or Congress candidate registering protests over some technicalities. The counting was a roller coaster ride for both candidates who led and trailed at different points by slender margins.

Katare led in the first round only to lose this lead in the subsequent 10 rounds. Katare then made a comeback and gained a lead of around 9000 votes. Bhadoria won the last few rounds but his lead in individual rounds was not good enough for him to win.

Incidentally, dynasties won in both seats in MP. While Hemant is the son of former leader of Opposition late Satyadev Katare whose death necessitated the bypoll, Shivnarayan Singh is the son of former state Minister Gyan Singh whose election to the Lok Sabha from Shahdol and subsequent resignation from the assembly had necessitated the bypolls.

The Ater bypolls were being seen as a contest in proxy between CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia with both leaders spending many days in Ater while campaigning for the bypoll.

This was also the first time Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was put to use in elections in Madhya Pradesh. The use of the VVPAT machines led to a controversy which eventually led to the transfer of the Collector and SP besides 17 other officials from the Bhind district. A number of other police officials were also transferred on orders of the ECI.