Madhya Pradesh bypoll turns prestige issue for Congress, BJPJune 24th, 2011 - 7:27 pm ICT by IANS
Bhopal, June 24 (IANS) The bypoll to Madhya Pradesh’s Jabera assembly constituency, scheduled for Saturday, has become a matter of prestige for both the Congress, reeling under a string of defeats, and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), keen to wrest a traditional Congress bastion.
The bypoll was necessitated following the death of sitting Congress legislator Ratnesh Solomon. Brother-in-law of former Chattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, Solomon won the seat five times.
The Congress, which has lost two strongholds - Sonekutch and Kukshi - four months back to BJP, is putting in all efforts to retain Jabera in the state’s Damoh district, 260 km east of Bhopal.
The setback in Kukshi was shameful for the Congress as the bypoll took place due to the death of the sitting member, Jamuna Devi - the leader of opposition in the assembly. Her niece was in the fray and lost by over 18,000 votes.
For Jabera, the Congress has fielded Ratnesh’s daughter, Tanya Solomon. A dentist by profession, Tanya, 27, faces the BJP’s Dasrath Singh Lodhi, who had lost to Ratnesh in the last election by 1,800 votes.
The election campaign that ended Thursday saw several rounds of allegations and charges between the two parties. While the BJP charged the Congress with carrying out conversions to christianity in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress accused the ruling party of buying votes.
Solomon is a Christian, and BJP’s state president Prabhat Jha has raked up the issue in his campaign, prompting the Congress to complain to the Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the Congress itself came up with a photograph allegedly showing a Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh pracharak distributing money for the BJP candidate in Jabera constituency.
The election scene grew more murky and nasty with an attack Thursday night on Amit Jogi, Ajit Jogi’s son and Tanya’s cousin, in Jabalpur.
After the attack, Amit alleged that it was the work of the BJP and accused a local BJP leader of instigating a mob to attack him.
However, Jha refuted the charges and instead accused Amit Jogi and Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh of distributing liquor and money to lure voters.
So far, a number of Congress heavyweights including party general secretary and former chief minister Digvijay Singh, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Minister of State for Commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ajit Jogi, and state party chief Kantilal Bhuria have campaigned for Tanya Solomon.
The BJP’s campaign was led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who undertook a road show on Wednesday despite heavy rains. The state unit chief is meanwhile camping in the constituency ever since the election was announced.
“Congress leaders know that if they lose the Jabera seat, it will have an adverse impact on their mission 2013 assembly polls. The BJP wants the Congress to bite dust again in their stronghold so that they do not recover in the coming future. So both sides are putting in everything to ensure their victory,” Rakesh Dixit, a senior journalist, told IANS.
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Tags: ajit jogi, amit, bastion, bhopal, bjp candidate, chief minister, constituency, daughter tanya, election campaign, election commission, election scene, jabalpur, jamuna, last election, leader of opposition, lodhi, prabhat jha, ruling party, state president, strongholds