The counting of votes in assembly bypolls to 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh, where the fate of Shivraj Singh Chouhan government hangs in balance, is underway. The stakes are high for both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in the bypolls, considered a litmus test for the parties.

The ruling BJP with 107 MLAs in Madhya Pradesh assembly, which holds an effective strength of 229, needs at least eight more MLAs for a simple majority in the state assembly. Meanwhile, the Congress will be hoping to regain its turf as it had sitting MLAs in 27 seats out of 28 in the state where bypolls were held.

The trends for all 28 seats are now in. The trends have slightly changed, with the BJP now leading in 19 of the 28 bypoll seats. The Congress leads in 8, while BSP leads in 1. Sumaoli, Dimani, Ambah, Mehgaon, Gohad, Karera and Biaora. The BSP leads in Morena by a margin of nearly 5,000 votes.

BJP appears to be in a comfortable position to retain power in Madhya Pradesh and this has led to celebrations at the party office in Bhopal.

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The bypolls were necessitated after 25 MLAs of the erstwhile Congress government switched over to the BJP in March 2020, leading to the fall of Kamal Nath’s 15-month-old government. Three seats were left vacant after the deaths of sitting legislators.

Jyotiraditya Scindia rocked the boat earlier this year by defecting to the BJP along with 22 other MLAs at first, and then three more. While the Congress’ strength was reduced to 88, the BJP, which had won 109 seats in the 2018 Assembly elections, crossed the halfway mark and instated its government under Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

At stake in Madhya Pradesh are the political ambitions of four senior national leaders — Kamal Nath of the Congress, and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Narendra Singh Tomar of the BJP.