Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Imarti Devi on Tuesday lost by-election from Dabra Assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh.
Devi, who had been a member of the Congress for nearly 23 years, was caught in the eye of a storm following MPCC chief Kamal Nath’s “item” remark, suffered a surprise loss at the hands of Congress’ Suresh Raje, also a turncoat who had left the BJP to join Congress party ahead of by-polls.
Raje defeated the Women and Child Development Minister of Shivraj government, by 7265 votes.
Imarti Devi is among the 22 loyalists of Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia who had resigned from the Congress and joined BJP leading to the collapse of the Nath government.
Political analysts believed that BJP’s internal equations also did not favour Imarti Devi, a three-time MLA who could have emerged as a powerful centre in the years to come. As Devi was fast emerging as a powerful politician in Jatav heartland in Gwalior-Chambal, a senior journalist from Gwalior said this could have produced a fresh power centre in the region packed with BJP heavyweights.
The former chief minister’s ‘item’ remark against Devi led to shiting gears in bypolls campaigns and transformed into a verbal war between the BJP and Congress leaders. Nath had faced massive criticism for his remarks including from his own party high command and was served notice from the EC which later removed him as Congress, party star campaigner in the last leg of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Devi who had remained in the limelight throughout due to her controversial takes. He had drawn criticism when she said that collectors if asked, could win any seat for the ruling party.
Later she was under fire for not wearing mask amid Covid-19 and for saying that she was immune to the virus as she was born amid cow dung and mud. She had even claimed that CM Shivraj and Scindia have promised to appoint her as Deputy chief minister if she wins with sizable votes.
Early on Tuesday, Imarti Devi was almost certain of her win and had said, “Kamal Nath’s bags are packed from Chhindwara, and he will now retreat to Bengal.”
“The public of Dabra has defeated Imarti Devi, but our family relations will remain as it is irrespective of win and defeat,” Raje said after the win. The Congress candidate said he views Devi as his ‘samdhan’ (close relative).
Meanwhile, another Scindia loyalist and the minister Pradyumn Singh Tomar won Gwalior seat defeating Congress’ Sunil Sharma. In Gwalior East, Congress’ Satish Sikarwar leads with around 2000 votes on BJP’s Munnalal Goyal, another Scindia loyalist, as per latest reports.
Among Scindia loyalist ministers, only Girraj Dandotiya lost from Dimni seat in Morena.
Till late evening, BJP had won 19 seats while Congress emerged victorious at seven and led at two others. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “We will review the reasons behind the losses including the one at Dabra.”
Meanwhile, Kamal Nath media coordinator Narendra Saluja said that it was clear that the voters had discarded the fake issue created around ‘item’ word in Dabra.