Maihar by-poll outcome debunks Congress myth of resurgence
Posted February 20, 2016on:
The Maihar Assembly by-election result has boosted the sagging morale of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, shattered the dream of Ajay Singh to emerge as the Congress leader of Vindhya region and debunked the myth spread by the Arun Yadav camp about the resurgence of Congress in the State after the party’s victory in the Ratlam lok Sabha constituency.
The by-election, held on February 13, was caused by the resignation of Narayan Tripathi who had won from there as Congress candidate in 2013 but had later joined BJP and resigned his Assembly seat. He was fielded by the BJP as its candidate against Manish Patel of Congress and 13 others. Manish had contested from the Maihar seat as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate in 2013. Maihar is part of Satna Lok Sabha constituency.
Chouhan’s confidence was shaken by the defeat of the BJP candidate in the Ratlam Lok Sabha by-election held in November last. The by-election was necessitated by the death of Dileep Singh Bhuria who had won from there in the 2014 Lok Sabha general elections on the BJP ticket. In the by-election, BJP fielded Dileep Singh Bhuria’s daughter Nirmala Bhuria as its candidate. The chief minister, and several of his cabinet colleagues, camped in the constituency for several days during the campaign. Chouhan addressed nearly two dozen rallies in support of Nirmala. When the results came, Kantilal Bhuria of the Congress was declared elected by a convincing margin of around 89,000 votes.
Maihar was crucial for both the parties, the BJP and the Congress. The latter, having registered an impressive victory in the Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency less than three months ago, wanted to continue its winning spree. The BJP, shattered by the defeat in Ratlam, wanted to arrest the further erosion in its support base.
More than that was involved the stake of two individuals, Ajay Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Ajay Singh, son of former Union minister Arjun Singh, was keen to establish his domination in the party in the Vindhya region. He was the Congress candidate for Lok Sabha from Satna constituency in 2014. Chouhan had ‘managed’ Narayan Prasad Tripathi (then Congress MLA from Maihar Assembly segment of Satna Lok Sabha constituency) who was said to have substantially sabotaged Ajay Singh’s chance of winning. As the party was mulling action against Tripathi, Chouhan made him join the BJP and resign from the Assembly with the promise that he would ensure his entry into the Assembly on the BJP ticket.
Narayan Tripathi who, as Congress candidate, had won by a margin of around 7,000 votes in 2013, recorded a victory by a margin of over 27,500 votes as BJP candidate this time.
Arun Yadav, after his brief and not-so-glorious stint in the Union Cabinet, was appointed PCC chief in January 2014. Senior leaders of the faction-ridden Congress in the State never took him seriously and he has also not shown any appreciable skills in trying to enlist their support. He, though, has the full support of AICC general secretary and in-charge of Madhya Pradesh affairs Mohan Prakash. The duo, however, could neither take steps to enthuse the demoralised party workers nor could they establish a comfortable working relationship with the media at large. It is a moot point if the Maihar verdict will make the party high command sit up and take notice of the party affairs in Madhya Pradesh.