New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) In a tight race for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, which saw a see-saw battle, the Congress managed to edge past BJP courtesy narrow margins of less than 1,000 votes in seven seats.
In the 230-member Assembly, the Congress won 114 seats while the BJP finished at 109 seats, seven short of a majority. The two parties were locked in a nail-biting contest.
The seven seats where the Congress candidates defeated their BJP rivals with a thin margin of ranging from 121 to 932 votes included Gwalior South, Suwasra in Mandsour district, Jabalpur North, Damoh in Damoh district, Rajnagar in Chhatarpur district, Biaora in Rajgarh district and Rajpur in Barwani district.
Gwalior South saw the toughest battle in the state as it ended up a result in which the Congress’ Praveen Pathak defeated BJP’s Narayan Singh Kushwah by a thin margin of 121 votes.
Suwasra also saw a tough contest that finished in favour of the Congress’ Dand Singh, who defeated the BJP’s Radheshyam Patidar by a margin of 350 votes.
In a close contest in Jabalpur North, Congress candidate Vinay Saxena defeated BJP’s Sharad Jain with by votes. Jain had won the seat in 2013 by a margin of 33,563 votes.
In Rajnagar, the Congress’ Vikram Singh, alias Nati Raja, defeated the BJP’s Arvind Pateriya by a margin of 732 seats. Former Congress leader Satyabrata Chaturvedi’s son Nitin, popular as Bunty Bhaiya contested from the seat on Samajwadi Party ticket. He came in fourth.
BJP heavyweight and former Minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government Jayant Malaiya was defeated by the Congress’ Rahul Singh by 798 votes.
The Biaora seat also saw a tough battle between the Congress and the BJP. The Congress’ Govardhan Dangi had the last laugh, defeating the BJP’s Narayan Singh Panwar by 826 votes.
Rajnagar was another seat which witnessed a close contest between the two parties. Bala Bacchan, a former Congress national Secretary defeated BJP’s Anter Singh Patel by 932 votes.
Interestingly, NOTA played a spoiler for the BJP candidates in all the seven seats.
In Biora 1,481 voters opted for NOTA and 1,299 in Damoh. Likewise, the NOTA count was 1,550 in Gwalior South, 1,209 in Jabalpur North, 2,485 in Rajnagar, 2,486 Rajpur and 2,976 in Suwasra.
The BJP faced the anger of upper castes after the Central government amended the SC/ST Act. The move by the BJP’s central leadership was a strategic one to counter the Congress’ propaganda dubbing the BJP as anti-dalit ahead of Assembly elections, seems to have boomerang on the saffron party.
Ahead of the elections, Madhya Pradesh saw widespread protests by the upper castes against the move. Many of the upper caste organisations had announced that they would not not vote for the BJP instead they would like to opt for NOTA.
“We were aware of it and we tried our best to contain the anger among the upper castes. Madhya Pradesh was among the first states to ban controversial Bollywood film Padmavat. We tried do give as many as tickets to candidates belonging to upper castes. Even Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held many rallies but all this efforts failed,” a senior Madhya Pradesh BJP leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
He claimed that this could be one of the reasons people opted for NOTA.
Among the five states were polls were held, Madhya Pradesh remained the highlight of the counting day which saw a ding-dong battle between the ruling BJP and the Congress with the lead alternating between the two sides.