Kolaras saw a voter turnout of 70 per cent; in Mungaoli it was 77 per cent
Bhopal: The Congress on Wednesday won crucial by-elections in two assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, seen as a semi-final before assembly elections later this year. The Congress held both seats - Mungaoli and Kolaras - which were vacated by the death of its sitting legislators. The ruling BJP had gone flat out to try and wrest the seats away from the opposition party with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan leading an aggressive campaign. In the Bijepur assembly by-election in Odisha, the ruling BJD won the seat that was held earlier by the Congress.
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Congress candidate Brijendra Singh Yadav won in Mungaoli by defeating BJP's Bhai Sahab Deshraj Singh Yadav by 2,124 votes. Mr Yadav got 70,808 votes, while the BJP polled 68,684 votes. In Kolaras, Congress's Mahendra Singh Yadav defeated BJP's Devendra Kumar Jain by 8,083 votes. The Congress polled 82,515 votes and the BJP 74,432 votes.
The bypolls, seen as a prestige battle between Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, saw campaigning on an unprecedented scale. While Mr Chouhan led the BJP campaign with a host of ministers, Congress lawmaker Jyotiraditya Scindia led the opposition attack.
Both the seats fall under Mr Scindia's parliamentary constituency Guna and were earlier held by the Congress. The formal royal had claimed during the campaign that the contest was not between two parties but "between Shivraj Singh Chouhan and me".
Mr Chouhan had dismissed it as a battle between two individuals, saying "I am not here for a wrestling match". The BJP that lost bypolls to two seats held last year to the Congress is keen on recovering lost ground.
Mr Scindia, who addressed over 75 rallies and 15 road shows, had said he was confident of a Congress victory in the bypolls and the assembly elections ahead. "Why wait for six months? I am saying let's have the assembly polls now."
The chief minister addressed more than 40 rallies and did over 10 road shows. As many as 18 cabinet ministers accompanied him during the campaign. The BJP also roped in Mr Scindia's aunt and minister Yashodhara Raje to campaign for the party.
The BJP that has been in power for 15 years in the state has pitched for development in the Congress bastion. "Give us five months, the government will deliver five years of work," Mr Chouhan said during the campaign.
In the run-up to the elections, both sides had accused each other of poll code violations and lodged complaints with the election commission.
Complaints of poll code violation were also filed against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and some of his ministers. Accused of indirectly announcing the construction of a bridge at a poll rally in Mungaoli, the election commission advised Mr Chouhan to be "more careful in future while making speeches" when the model code of conduct is in place.
Kolaras saw a voter turnout of 70 per cent; in Mungaoli it was 77 per cent. Votes were counted at the Government ITI College in Kolaras and Government Nehru Degree College in Mungaoli.