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Three assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh go for by-elections on Thursday

BHOPAL: Poll campaigning in the three assembly constituencies of Madhya Pradesh — Agar, Vijayaraghogarh and Bahoriband — that will go for by-elections on Thursday, ended on Tuesday evening.

The three seats fell vacated for different reasons. Vijayaraghogarh fell vacant as the Congress’ MLA Sanjay Pathak shifted his loyalty to the BJP just before the Lok Sabha elections in April, whereas, BJP MLA from Agar Manohar Utwal elected to the Lok Sabha from Dewas Parliamentary constituency and BJP MLA from Bahoriband Prabhat Pandey passed away following a brain haemorrhage.

There are no specific issues for the bypolls, which is being held eight months after the assembly elections and three months after the Lok Sabha polls. It was the sheer inertia of the two prior elections that have carried away with it the bypolls in these assembly seats.

Vijayaraghogarh has been one of those rare advantage seats for the Congress party. Since 1990, the Congress has won this seat four times while the BJP got two terms. But the Congress won the seats fielding candidates from one family which has moved away from the party four months ago. Mining baron Satyendra Pathak was a minister of state in the erstwhile Digvijay Singh Congress government and won the seat twice in 1993 and 1998 but he lost in 2003 when a BJP wave gripped the state.

In 2008, Satyendra Pathak’s son Sanjay claimed the seat again with a margin of 22,794 votes. Sanjay Pathak won the constituency for a second time last November though with a very slim margin of 929 votes.

As Lok Sabha polls approached, Sanjay Pathak demanded a Parliamentary seat ticket from the Congress. When denied, he switched loyalty to the BJP which has now fielded him as the party candidate opposite former Katni mayor Brijendra Mishra. Congress claims Brijendra is a popular candidate and can give Pathak a tough fight though he only runs a private bus syndicate opposed to his rival’s flourishing mining business.

Bahoriband is essentially a Congress seat which the BJP won after four successive defeats in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008. But in November, the BJP's Prabhat Pandey reversed the rules of the game and defeated former MLA Nishith Patel who is son of former Congress minister Shavan Kumar Patel.

Congress has denied the ticket to Nishith Patel which has caused a lot of dissention within the party while fielding Saurav Singh, who contested as a BSP candidate in November. The BJP is running Pranav Pandey, son of deceased MLA Prabhat Pandey, banking on the sympathy factor and the infighting within the state Congress which suspended Nishith Patel last week for anti-party activities.

Agar is a BJP bastion with the Congress winning the seat only once in 1998. The BJP has put its trust in an old candidate Gopal Parmar who won the seat in 1993 but lost to the Congress in the next elections. The BJP fielded different candidates for the next three elections winning the each time with impressive margins. In November former minister of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government Manohar Utwal won the seat with 28859 votes defeating the Congress' Madhu Gehlot. On Thursday, the contest will be between Gopal Parmar and the Congress' Rajkumar Gore a locally known former Youth Congress leader.