BJP’s members in Madhya Pradesh have started celebrating an early Diwali as the party maintained a lead in 20 of the 28 Assembly constituencies for which bypolls were held. The Congress is ahead in seven seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party in one.
The bypolls are crucial for both the BJP and the Congress as the outcome would determine the survival or dismissal of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government that was sworn-in this March after 22 MLAs of the ruling defected on mass to the BJP following the lead of their leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Congress had won 27 of these seats in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh state elections.
The saffron party needs just nine of the 28 seats to reach the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member Assembly. The Congress, which has been reduced to just 87 seats compared to 114 it had won in December 2018, needs to win a minimum 22 if it wants a shot at power.
The election is the first in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic and with the way the results seems to be progressing, looks like the BJP has put up a stellar performance in the state.
The way the Narendra Modi government handled the pandemic and helped cushion the blow on the poor by handling out financial doles and free foodgrains seems to have actually attracted voters and helped the party retain power.
The bypolls is also a do-or-die battle for Scindia family scion Jyotiraditya Scindia, who took a massive step in March this year, leaving the Congress and embracing the saffron party, putting much on stake. His stature in the party solely relies on the performance of his loyalists in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
Even in Karnataka where two seats have gone to bypolls, the BJP is leading.
In Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal is leading in the two constituencies that went for polls, making the eastern state the only bastion where the BJP is still struggling to make an entry.