Madhya Pradesh is all set to vote in bye-elections to the Kolaras and Mungaoli Assembly constituencies on Saturday. The contests are being seen as a barometer for which way the state may vote in the general elections scheduled for the end of the year.
Polling will take place between 8 am and 5 pm in the two constituencies. The counting of votes is scheduled to take place on February 28.
Kolaras will see 22 candidates on the ballot, fighting for the approval of the constituency's 2.44 lakh voters. Mungaoli meanwhile will see 13 candidates in the fray for the votes of 1.91 lakh eligible electors.
Both Kolaras and Mungaoli are assembly segments in the Guna Lok Sabha constituency, which is represented by Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. They are considered Congress bastions and were won by Congress candidates in the last election. A victory in either of these constituencies would be seen as a major victory for the ruling BJP.
The fact that both the constituencies in the bye-election are represented in Parliament by Scindia also adds weight to the contest, considering indications that he could be named the Congress's chief ministerial candidate in the coming Assembly election.
The campaign for the Kolaras and Mungaoli constituencies has also seen heated campaigning from both major parties. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan addressed rallies in both places, as did Scindia. This has meant these bye-elections have developed into a personality battle between the two leaders.
Chouhan, presently in his third term as Chief Minister, will be looking to extend the BJP's string election run since 2014. He has served as the state's CM since 2005, with his party holding power since 2003. He has been voted back to power twice since, in 2008 and 2013.