BHOPAL: Five months after losing to ruling BJP in the urban local body polls, the opposition Congress staged a comeback of sorts in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday winning post of chairpersons in nine of the 19 urban local bodies which went to polls on January 17.
It was a tie between the BJP and the Congress as both the parties won chairperson posts in nine local bodies each, while an independent candidate (who was denied ticket by BJP) won the post of chairperson in another urban local body.
The ruling BJP won chairpersons posts in Dhamnod, Kukshi, Dahi, Pithampur (Dhar district), Sendhwa, Pansemal, Palsud, Rajpur (Barwani district) and Omkareshwar (Khandwa).
On the other hand Congress won the chairperson posts in urban local bodies in Dhar, Manawar, Sardarpur, Rajgarh and Dharampuri (Dhar district), Barwani, Khetia, Anjad (Barwani district) and Raghogarh in Guna district.
The posts of chairperson in Jaithari Nagar Parishad in Anuppur district was won by a BJP rebel who contested the polls after being denied ticket by the ruling party.
Not only did the two parties won equal numbers of urban local bodies chairperson posts, but even polled equal 43% votes.
However, when it came to ward members, the BJP won 194 wards, while the Congress emerged victorious in 145 wards. The independents won in 13 wards. In terms of votes, the ruling party polled 46%, while the opposition Congress secured 43% votes in the wards.
Among the posts of chairpersons, the opposition Congress wrested eight posts from ruling BJP, including Dhar, Manawar, Sardarpur, Rajgarh, Dharampuri, Anjad, Barwani and Khetia, while the BJP managed to wrest the posts from Congress in five local bodies, including Kukshi, Dahi, Pithampur, Rajpur and Omkareshwar. One post of Nagar Parishad chairperson was wrested from the Congress by a rebel BJP candidate.
While the BJP retained four posts it won the last time, including Palsud, Pansemal, Sendhwa and Dhamnod, Congress retained the Raghogarh Nagar Palika in Guna district, which has been the impregnable fort of the party as it’s the hometown of former chief minister Digvijay Singh.
Among the posts of heads in Nagar Palika/Nagar Parishad where stakes were high for either of the two parties, BJP won Omkareshwar in state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan’s Khandwa district, while Congress continued to hold on to its fort Raghogarh (Digvijay Singh’s hometown in Guna district. The Congress, however, suffered blow in Rajpur and Pansemal (both strong holds of its senior leader Bala Bachchan) in Barwani district, as both the posts were won by BJP.
In Raghogarh Nagar Palika (the home turf of Congress stalwart Digvijay Singh) the chairperson’s posts remained with the Congress only, which won 20 of the 24 wards. The BJP improved its tally from one to four wards this time. The result was significant as in the absence of Singh, who is on six-months Narmada Parikrama, it was his son and local MLA Jaivardhan Singh who spearheaded the poll campaign.
With both parties remaining tied up when it came to 19 posts of chairpersons in local bodies, the results came as a kind of setback to ruling BJP, particularly as CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had himself campaigned for party candidates in most of the 19 local bodies.
The state Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra said “The fake image of being MP’s brand ambassador created by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan with the help of hollow promises and lies has been shattered by these results.”
On the other hand, state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan claimed that the BJP had won at many places. He, however, added that the party would review reasons behind its losses. He also admitted that the party at places failed to understand sentiments of the workers and erred in ticket distribution.
The results could serve as a big boost to the opposition Congress ahead of the February 24 by-polls to Kolaras and Mungaoli assembly seats. Importantly, the Congress has been out of power since 2003 in the state, where next assembly polls will be held towards the end of this year.
In August 2017, out of the 43 urban local bodies which went to polls, BJP had won 25 posts of chairpersons, while the Congress could manage only 15, followed by independents who won three posts.