Bigwigs' prestige at stake in MP bypoll

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Bhopal, Apr 14 (UNI) Even as Madhya Pradesh faces an election year, the prestige of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan -- a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader -- and Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath is at stake in the Betul Lok Sabha bypoll, the results of which will be announced on Wednesday.

The voting for the byelection took place through electronic voting machines on April 12 and a total 12 candidates are in the fray, including seven Independents.

Since its creation, Madhya Pradesh witnessed bipolar politics involving the Congress and the BJP.

The pages of Betul's electoral history reveal that the balance has generally tilted in the saffron party's favour whenever the voting percentage exceeded 50. The figure was 59 per cent this time with the Assembly constituency-wise break-up the Aamla 61.47, Betul 61.55, Masaud 69.87, Bhainsdehi 57.32, Ghodadogri 58.48, Multai 61.95, Harda 56.39 and Timarni 57.24.

An exception was witnessed in 1984 when the seat went to the Congress despite a 53.92 per cent turnout. The situation was reversed in 2004 when Betul went to the BJP despite below 50 per cent voting.

The saffron party emerged victorious in 1989, 1996, 1998 and 1999 when the turnout was 50.51, 55.70, 50.88 and 53.51 per cent respectively.

The Congress won in 1971, 1980 and 1991 when the percentage was 44.76, 48.56 and 37.06 respectively.

BJP sources claimed that the party was hoping for greater rural support this time courtesy the regime's development work. The main Opposition Congress hoped to capitalise on ''apathy'' of the district's BJP MLAs.

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