Congress’ Balmukund Goutam, who lost the Dhar Assembly seat to the BJP’s Neena Verma by a single vote in 2008, was declared winner by the High Court in August. The court ordered the counting of seven postal votes that were disregarded earlier. Ms. Verma obtained a stay from the Supreme Court, which was vacated in September—long after the Assembly’s last session. Mr. Goutam was sworn in on September 24, less than a fortnight before the Model Code of Conduct for the 2013 Assembly polls came into force.

In the 2008 polls, 74 seats were decided on a margin of less than 5000 votes. The winners include ministers Jayant Mallayya, Anup Mishra, Ramkrishna Kusmariya and Ranjana Baghel. Ministers of State Brijendra Singh, Kanhaiyalal Agrawal, Harishankar Khatik and Nanabhau Mohod also fall in this category. The Congress plans to renominate all sitting MLAs and candidates who lost by less than 1000 votes.

Sleaze and seats

Sex crimes are a popular issue in these elections. Vidisha MLA Raghavji lost his job as Finance Minister in July and was expelled from the BJP for allegedly sexually exploiting his male aide. Raghavji continues to attend public functions and visits his political associates across the State. He is seeking a ticket for his daughter Jyoti Shah, the municipality chairperson of Vidisha, from his seat.

Godman Asaram Bapu was arrested from his Indore ashram on September 1, for allegedly raping a student of Chhindwara, in his Jodhpur centre. Initially the BJP came out in support of the preacher, but later backtracked. Since then, several of his properties have been raided and investigations are on in several land disputes his organisation is party to. MP reported 3425 rapes in 2012, the highest in India.

Changing colours

Three MLAs changed party colours in the incumbent Vidhan Sabha. The first was the Deputy Chief of the Congress Legislative Party Chaudhri Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi. The MLA from Bhind scuttled a no-confidence motion by his own party in the monsoon session of the Assembly. Chaturvedi set a precedent by becoming the first deputy floor leader to cross the floor during session in India. He joined the BJP and is reportedly seeking a ticket from Mehgaon. Soon after the session, BSP MLA from Morena Paras Ram Mudgal also joined the BJP. Former Congress minister Manavendra Singh, currently an independent from Maharajpur, also joined the BJP.

Lotus sutra

Congress Corporator Amarchand Bawaria from Jabalpur requested the Election Commission to cover lotus ponds before the election, as the lotus is the symbol of the BJP. Mr. Bawaria said that if elephant statues could be covered in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh should follow suit. “There are water bodies in Malwa, Mahakaushal and Bundelkhand where there are lotuses. This cultivation is supported by BJP members Hence, I made this request,” he told reporters. The request was denied by the EC.

The BJP holds 17 out of 26 seats in Bundelkhand, 23 out of 37 seats in Mahakaushal and 43 out of 65 seats in Malwa regions respectively.

An horticulture official told this paper that lotus cultivation is not prevalent and is mainly harvested from ponds where it grows wild, that too in small quantities.