As campaigning ends today for the November 19 by-elections to the Shahdol Lok Sabha and Nepanagar Assembly seats, ruling BJP will face its first litmus test since demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
Retaining both the ST seats in this by-polls will be crucial for the BJP as if it loses any one of them it will be construed that the decision to scrap high denomination currency has not gone down well with the people, a Congress leader said.
However, a BJP leader exuded confidence of retaining both the seats with a comfortable margin and claimed that the issue of demonetisation will not affect its poll prospects.
“People were facing grave problems with this dictatorial order. Both common man and farmers were forced to stand in long queues. Farmers are not having money to purchase fertilizers and seeds,” Madhya Pradesh Congress President Arun Yadav told PTI.
“People are highly annoyed with the decision and I am sure that they will vote against the BJP on the issue,” Yadav said.
They are already facing a lot of problems because of lack of development and tall claims of the government that people are getting 24×7 power supply in the state. Now, the decision to demonetise Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes has added further fuel to the fire, the Congress leader said.
However, BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd Chairman, Dr Hitesh Bajpai said that demonetisation is not an issue in tribal-dominated areas.
“They are more concerned with issues of getting land lease rights, their staple food is rice and jowar and they are happy with it,” he said.
“(Earlier) the party had won the Shahdol seat with a margin of over two lakh votes and I am sure that we will retain it with a difference of more than 1.5 lakh ballots,” he said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan, former Union Minister Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and state Congress president Arun Yadav have addressed series of public meetings to woo voters and drum up support for their respective parties.
Chouhan has frequented Shahdol to ensure that the BJP retains the seat. He is taking no chances given that the BJP had failed to retain the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha by-polls in November 2015.