Bhopal: Polling is currently underway in Mungaoli and Kolaras - two key assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh where the bypoll has become a battle of prestige between the ruling BJP and the main opposition party Congress.
Campaigning for the two bypolls ended on Thursday and votes will be counted on February 28.
The outcome of the bypolls will provide an opportunity to gauge the mood of the state that will elect a new assembly later this year.
The state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress will face off in the Mungaoli and Kolaras seats, both currently held by the Congress.
Both fall within the Guna Lok Sabha constituency, represented by Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia.
The bypolls were necessitated by the death of sitting Congress legislators.
The two seats have been Congress strongholds for long, so it holds more significance for the party, which is looking to recapture power after 15 years.
Last year, despite putting up a fierce contest, the BJP could not win the Ater and Chitrakoot assembly seats held by the Congress. This time, it has put up another spirited fight to make a dent in the Scindia citadel and score an important personality battle.
The Congress has fielded Mahendra Singh Yadav and Brajendra Singh Yadav from Kolaras and Mungaoli seats respectively.
The BJP nominees are Devendra Jain from Kolaras and Baisaab Yadav from Mungaoli.
In the 2013 assembly elections too Jain had contested from the BJP against the Congress nominee, the late Ram Singh Yadav, who won by nearly 25,000 votes.
In Mungaoli, Congress candidate late Mahendra Singh Kalukhede had defeated his BJP rival Rao Deshraj Singh by nearly 21,000 votes in 2013.
Both Chouhan and Scindia have led hectic campaigns for their parties in these bypolls. Earlier this month, Chouhan announced a few sops for farmers to blunt the Congress criticism over farm unrest.
In a first, the BJP also deployed Yashodhara Raje Scindia, minister for sports and youth welfare in the Shivraj cabinet, and Jyotiraditya’s aunt, to the campaign, in a departure from the Scindia dynasty’s tradition of not directly campaigning against each other.