“BSP has extended support to the Congress ahead of the Ater bypoll,” Congress General Secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh Mohan Prakash told reporters.
Confirming the development, BSP district chief Gambhir Singh said, “We have extended support to Congress for Ater bypoll to take revenge of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.”
BSP enjoys good support in Bhind district, bordering Uttar Pradesh.
The Ater bypoll has become a prestige issue for senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
While Congress wants to retain Ater seat as it belongs to former Leader of Opposition, Satyadev Katare, whose death necessitated the bypoll, BJP also wants to wrest it from Congress to continue with the party’s winning streak.
Katare was close to Scindia and in order to cash in on the sympathy votes, Congress has fielded his son Hemant Katare from Ater to retain the seat.
However, BJP, in order to prove that it has become a supreme political force in the state, is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that it wrests Ater from Congress, just like it had snatched the Kukshi seat from earlier Leader of Opposition Late Jamuna Devi in 2011, even as Congress had won the Kukshi seat again in 2013.
Scindia addressed nearly 23 meetings in Ater constituency. During the rallies, he had alleged that the state government was neck deep involved in corruption whose glaring examples are Vyapam, Simhastha and mid-day meal scams, among others.
Chouhan also addressed nearly 20 poll meetings in Ater in support of the party candidate Arvind Singh Bhadoria, who won the poll from this seat in 2008. He made an appeal to the voters to vote for the party in the name of BJP’s popular slogan “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas.”
Apart from Ater, byelection for Bandhavgarh assembly segment in Umaria district will also be held tomorrow. It was necessitated as the seat had fallen vacant after MLA Gyan Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha in November last year. The main contest in Bandhavgarh (ST) seat is between Shivnarayan Singh of BJP and Savitri Singh of Congress.
The counting of votes will take place on April 13.
Meanwhile, state Joint Chief Electoral Officer S S Bansal said, “For the first time in Madhya Pradesh, polling in both Bandhavgarh and Ater constituencies will be held with the help of VVPAT-enabled EVM machines.”