Bhopal: The Congress on Sunday retained the Chitrakoot Assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh with its candidate Nilanshu Chaturvedi defeating his BJP rival Shankar Dayal Tripathi by a margin of 14,135 votes.
For the Congress, this was a must-win seat since it is the pocket borough of the late Congress heavyweight Arjun Singh. His son Ajay Singh, who is also the leader of the opposition, has a huge following in the area. Last year’s defeat in Maihar by-election had come as a huge setback for the party and questions had been raised about Singh’s clout.
After the convincing win on Sunday, Ajay Singh was quoted by NDTV as saying, “The exile of the Congress in the state has ended from the taposthali of Lord Rama”. Chitrakoot is said to be the place where Lord Rama had spent almost 12 years of his exile with wife Sita and brother Lakshmana.
Incidentally, this year, the party had indicated that Jyotiraditya Scindia will be the face of the party in the coming elections. With Ajit Jogi out of the way and senior leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh falling in line, the Congress was able to launch a concerted campaign against the corruption and ineptitude of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
The Chitrakoot seat — one of the three Congress strongholds, apart from Mungaoli and Kolaras — fell vacant after Congress MLA Prem Singh, who had won the seat three times, died in May this year. Singh had won the Chitrakoot seat in 1998, 2003 and 2013, losing to BJP’s Surendra Singh Gaharwar in 2008.
Soon after the win, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “The winds of change are in the air. Many thanks to the people of Chitrakoot for their faith and trust in the Congress party.” BJP MP Nand Kumar Chauhan was quoted by ANI as saying, “We fought in Chitrakoot to win but did not succeed… However, the Chitrakoot results are not reflective of the mood of the state.’’
With the Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh slated for November next year, the results of the Chitrakoot by-poll are a wakeup call for both the BJP. Voting for the Chitrakoot by-poll took place on November 9 with the constituency recording almost 65 per cent voter turnout. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and Madhya Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party chief Nandkumar Chouhan had campaigned for the party’s candidate.