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MP bypolls: Congress sets the stage for assembly elections with Kolaras, Mungaoli victories

The Congress victory in the two by-polls in Madhya Pradesh have set a positive mood for the party for the assembly polls at the end of the year in which chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will be seeking his fourth term.

The wins in Kolaras and Mungaoli, coming on the back of the Congress' good performance in recent civil polls and victories in two assembly by-poll last year, show that Chouhan's fortress in Madhya Pradesh can be breached.

In these by-polls, a united Congress successfully took on the much stronger BJP, like in Rajasthan, where the grand old party routed the ruling party in three by-polls ? Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha and Mangalgarh assembly.

Facing strong anti-incumbency, Chouhan had camped in the two constituencies for a fortnight along with half his cabinet ministers. The CM addressed over 30 rallies and road shows, turning the contest into a prestige battle between him and the Congress face for the polls ? Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Chouhan sought just "Five months" from people to bring development of five years in the two constituencies with a huge population of tribals and other backward classes (OBCs). To sway the voters, he also included three legislators from the OBC communities into his cabinet a month ago in addition to announcing sops for them.

Statistically, the BJP had an edge as a study by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies showed that in over 65% of the by-polls held since 1990s the ruling party candidate had won. But on the ground, the BJP lost to better campaigning by the Congress, which questioned the ruling party?s work in the last 15 years and its apathy towards farmers, which clicked with the voters.

Chouhan told reporters that the BJP had put up a good fight in the by-polls. "We had lost these seats in 2013 assembly elections even when there was a BJP wave (in the state)," he said.