Along with Bihar assembly elections, there is one more state that will take place to decide the fate of the two political parties. The ruling party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress will once again lock horns in by-elections for 28 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh scheduled for November 3. A lot of will be at stake as the fortunes of key leaders; Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former CMs Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and the man at the center of the entire battle – Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia will be decided.
The by-polls came as out of the 28 seats where elections will be held, 25 became vacant after Scindia along with his loyalists left the party in March and turned towards joining BJP resulting in the downfall of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state in March this year. The former chief minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan once again took over the leadership in the state. Three other seats were declared vacant after the death of incumbent MLAs. The elections were scheduled to be held on or before September but were delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Out of 230 constituencies in the state, 28 will be polled. Currently, the BJP has 107 seats and the support of four independents, two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) lawmakers, and one suspended Samajwadi Party MLA. However, the BJP is aiming to become independent to form the government. In order to do so, it needs to win nine out of the 28 seats in order to go past the halfway mark.
On the other hand, Congress has 88 MLAs in the Assembly. For them to win the elections, it would need to win all 28 seats to cross the halfway mark which of course is a tough task, given the fact that who won these constituencies most of them have joined the BJP. Meanwhile, according to the statistics, even if the Congress is able to win 20-21 seats, it could mean victory as it will overtake BJP in numbers. Congress can then win over the independents, the BSP MLAs, and the rebel SP MLA to switch sides.
BSP and independents
In all of this, the BSP and independents will play a crucial party. The BSP has already referred to themselves as 'kingmakers' as the party can be flexible enough to switch sides when required. In order to so, it has also put up candidates on almost all the seats where by-polls will be held. However, this can only prove worthy, if both the BJP and Congress remain below the majority mark by a few seats.
Importance of Gwalior-Chambal region
Out of the 28 seats that are going to the polls, 16 are in the Gwalior-Chambal region. Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Digvijaya Singh are fighting for supremacy in this region. Caste is a crucial winning factor in this region. It was also the epicenter of the Bharat Bandh against the dilution of the Scheduled Caste and scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 2018. This incident had a huge impact on the 2018 Assembly Elections in the state. Meanwhile, BSP has been influential in this region and the party is contesting on all seats in the by-polls.
History of by-poll Elections
According to the statistics, between 2009 and 2019, the ruling party at the state level has an advantage when it comes to by-elections. It has around two-thirds of the by-polls. Given this track record, it would not be easy for the Congress to win 20 out of 28 seats it needs to even come close to bringing down the BJP government.