With 55 candidates fighting over one Lok Sabha and three Assembly seats in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh bypolls, the main contest will be between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.
Although the elections will have no bearing on the stability of the government, it is being seen as crucial for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with the BJP reshuffling chief ministers in several states. The party has deputed 12 ministers and 40 MLAs to campaign for the bypolls.
In his 31-year electoral career, Shivraj Singh Chouhan was, for the first time, heard saying, "I'm out with a stick. I won't spare anyone who indulges in wrongdoings." He even suspended quite a few officers from the stage during campaigning.
The bypolls were necessitated as seats fell vacant due to the deaths of the MLAs and MP. Sympathy will play a major role in the bypolls apart from the serious issues being raised by the Congress like inflation, corruption, and the governance of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The Assembly segments going to the polls are spread across the state. Prithvipur is in Bundelkhand, Raigaon is in Baghelkhand and Jobat is near the Gujarat border. The Khandwa Lok Sabha seat is in Nimar.
Congress MLA Brijendra Singh Rathore, an MLA from Prithvipur - a general seat, died in May. Congress MLA Kalawati Bhuria, representing Jobat - reserved for Scheduled Tribes, died in April and BJP MLA Jugal Kishore Bagri, an MLA from Raigaon constituency - reserved for Scheduled Castes, died in May. The Khandwa Lok Sabha seat - a general constituency - fell vacant after BJP MP Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan died of Covid in March.
Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath said, "Many lives were lost due to the shortage of oxygen, beds, and necessary medicines in the state during Covid. The Shivraj Chouhan government had promised to provide compensation to all the affected families but not a single family has been compensated so far."
"This is the first election in the state since the pandemic and the people should not forget the harrowing time. At a time when people were banking on the state for help, Shivraj Chouhan and his ministers failed them. Now is the time to settle scores with the government."
BJP has fielded defectors like Sulochana Rawat, former two-term Congress MLA who joined BJP in October, and Shishupal Yadav, who defected from the Samajwadi Party. However, the road ahead is not easy for the ruling BJP as the unprecedented fuel price hikes, food inflation, a spike in cases of atrocities against the tribals, and issues related to the farmers continue to grab headlines ahead of the elections.
The bypolls will be held on October 30 and the votes will be counted on November 2.