Congress successfully retained the Chitrakoot Assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh, earning a thumping victory over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Congress candidate Nilanshu Chaturvedi defeated BJP’s Shankar Dayal Tripathi by a significant margin of 14,135 votes. After Congress MLA Prem Singh’s demise in May this year, the seat from Chitrakoot province had fallen vacant. Heavyweight MLA Prem Singh (65) had won the seat three times — he won the seat in 1998 for the first time and was re-elected in 2003 and then 2013. Prem Singh was suffering from severe diabetes and breathed his last in a private hospital of the state.
The by-election in Chitrakoot was a crucial one for both BJP and Congress before assembly election which is slated for November 2018. With a win once again in Chitrakoot, Nilanshu Chaturvedi will become the 57th party MLA in the 230 members House of Madhya Pradesh. The voting for the Chitrakoot by-poll took place on November 9, with a remarkable 65% voter turnout. At least 257 polling booths with VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines were posted in the constituency for the by-poll election.The counting of votes began at around 9am on Sunday amid beefed up security arrangements. Chaturvedi led the race right from the beginning of the counting and kept racing towards a victory as the counting progressed. The final results were declared after 19 rounds of counting. Both BJP and Congress had fielded their best and the stern contest was among 12 candidates. However, BJP and Congress were under the spotlight. The two parties had relied on big names to campaign for their respective candidates. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan voiced for BJP’s Shankar Dayal Tripathi whereas MP Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia backed Congress’ Nilanshu Chaturvedi.
BJP’s Nand Kumar said that though the saffron party lost in the by-poll, it merely denotes the mood of the Madhya Pradesh public. “The counting till now shows that the seat will go to Congress, but what happens here does not denote the mood of the state,” he told ANI.
Congress spokesperson Rajdeep Surjewala took to Twitter to express his delight over the win and wrote, “The winds of change are in the air. Many thanks to the people of #Chitrakoot for their faith and trust in the Congress party.”