NEW DELHI: While the by-elections which were held in 28 assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday are significant for both the ruling BJP and principal opposition party the Congress, they are most crucial for former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Among all the top MP leaders who are keenly involved in the bypolls – such as chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, his predecessor Kamal Nath, former CM Digvijay Singh and Scindia – the stakes are the highest for the last.
In the 2018 assembly elections, while the BJP had won 109 of the 230 seats, the Congress was victorious on 114 seats and it was just two short of the majority mark of 116.
However, Kamal Nath formed the government with the support of the BSP.
After Scindia rebelled against the Congress leadership in March this year, 22 party MLAs owing allegiance to him resigned leading to the downfall of the Kamal Nath government. Three more MLAs close to the former Guna MP resigned subsequently while three sitting BJP MLAs died, thus necessitating by-elections on 28 seats.
One more seat has fallen vacant after a Congress MLA crossed over to the BJP last month. By-election to this seat might be held later.
Hence, while 29 out of 230 seats are lying vacant, by-elections are being held on 28 of them.
Out of the 28 seats which are going to bypolls, the 25 MLAs who resigned their seats are considered to be close to Scindia.
Out of these 25 seats, 16 are located in the Gwalior-Chambal region, where Scindia wields influence on the voters.
Moreover, 12 of these 25 MLAs are ministers in the present Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Hence, prestige is more at stake for these 11 and also personally for Scindia.
Of the total 28 seats going to polls, the BJP – which has 107 MLAs – needs to win nine to get a majority. On the other hand, with 88 MLAs, the Congress will have to win all 28 to return to power.
As situations exist at present, odds are against the Congress. Even though it is easier for the BJP to retain power, prestige is at stake for Scindia.
A sizeable number of the 25 MLAs, particularly the 12 ministers, who had resigned after he rebelled must win.
If most of the 25 MLAs win, it would mean the voters have supported Scindia in his rebellion and pulling down the Kamal Nath government.
If the majority of these rebel MLAs lose, it would be a major embarrassment for Scindia. It would then mean that the voters have not forgiven and forgotten the rebellion and changing of parties. It would be a personal mandate against Scindia.
It would also mean that the voters are more loyal to the Congress than Scindia.
In that case, it would be a pleasant development for Digvijaya Singh who also enjoys some influence in the Gwalior-Chambal region. His political stature may grow at Scindia’s expense which would prove problematic for Scindia in future elections.
Kamal Nath, on the other hand, would have the last laugh.
However, if the MLAs supported by Scindia win, some of the credit would also go to Chouhan as the ruling party and the incumbent CM usually have an edge in the bypolls.
But an impressive performance by 25 candidates would help increase Scindia’s stature in the BJP. He may get a significant portfolio in the next reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers.
Not just this, Scindia may become BJP’s no. 2 leader in MP and his name might be in the reckoning for the state chief minister’s post.
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