Campaigning for Amarwara assembly bypoll ends in MP; Cong, BJP to square off after LS battle

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Chhindwara (MP), Jul 8 (PTI) Campaigning for bypoll to the Amarwara assembly seat in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh ended on Monday evening with Chief Minister Mohan Yadav and senior Congress leaders making last-minute efforts to woo voters in favour of their respective candidates.

Besides Yadav, a senior BJP politician, state Congress chief Jitu Patwari and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the assembly Umang Singhar also took part in canvassing on the last day before the July 10 voting, which comes weeks after the saffron party made a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha polls in the central state.

In all, nine candidates are in the fray in Amarwara, which falls in Chhindwara district, the home turf of Congress veteran Kamal Nath, but the main fight is likely to be between the grand old party and the ruling BJP.

Yadav, facing the first electoral test after assuming office nearly seven months ago, addressed two election meetings to drum up support for BJP candidate Kamlesh Shah, promising rapid development of the tribal-reserved assembly constituency.

Three-time Congress MLA Shah had crossed over to the BJP on March 29, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in Chhindwara on April 19. He later resigned from the state assembly, necessitating the by-election.

In the 2023 assembly polls, Shah, the then-Congress candidate, defeated BJP nominee Monika Manmohan Shah Batti by a margin of 25,086 votes in Amarwara.

Before electioneering ended at 6 pm, Patwari and Singhar held rallies in support of Congress candidate Dheeran Shah Invati and poured scorn on BJP nominee Kamlesh Shah, calling him a "betrayer".

A tribal political outfit, Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), too, is in the reckoning in the seat. Its candidate Devraman Bhalavi can't be written off given that he had pocketed around 22,000 votes in Amarwara, out of 56,000 he polled when he fought the April 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Chhindwara.

The GGP has won Amarwara once in 2003.

The Congress has won the assembly seat nine times, while the BJP has emerged victorious on three occasions -- in 1972, 1990 and 2008.

The polling will start at 7 am on July 10 and close at 6 pm, while the counting of votes will take place on July 13.

Notably, BJP candidate from the Chhindwara Lok Sabha constituency, BJP candidate Banty Vivek Sahu, secured a lead of over 15,000 votes in the Amarwara seat in the recently held general elections.

The BJP won all the 29 Lok Sabha constituencies in Madhya Pradesh. PTI COR LAL RSY