The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday won 19 seats out of the 28 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh where bye-polls were held, the Election Commission said. With this, the saffron party secured a comfortable majority in the House and retained the eight-month-old Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.

The polls were a prestige battle between former Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who resigned from the state Assembly on March 10 this year, leading to the fall of the Congress government and the BJP regaining power after a gap of 15 months.

Elections were necessitated after 22 sitting MLAs and supporters of Scindia also switched to the saffron party. Sixteen of the 28 seats were contested in the Gwalior and Chambal region, believed to be a stronghold of the Scindias. With most of his loyalists winning the November 3 bye-polls and the BJP making significant inroads in the Gwalior and Chambal region, Scindia will now look to cement his place in the party.

Of the 28 seats, the Congress managed to win just nine. The BJP’s vote share stood at 49.46%, compared to the Congress’s 40.50%. The numbers were in favour of Chouhan as his government needed to win only nine seats in the 230-member Assembly to cross the halfway mark on its own, compared to 28 for the Congress.

Source: The Election Commission of India

The chief minister said the results show voters supported the decision taken by Congress MLAs to switch over to the BJP, reported PTI. “It has been proved today that public has supported the decision taken by our MLA colleagues under the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia to pull down the [Kamal Nath] government,” Chouhan told party workers.

Chouhan also called Kamal Nath an “accidental chief minister” and said the increase in BJP’s vote share was an “incredible achievement”.

Scindia thanked the people of the state for the mandate, according to ANI. “I am a worker of Bharatiya Janata Party,” he said. “Results have proven that Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are the traitors.”

Meanwhile, Nath accepted the Congress’ defeat and said the party made efforts to reach out to people. “We accept the mandate,” he said. “We made every effort to reach out to voters. I also thank all voters who participated in the by-elections. I hope that the BJP government will take care of the interest of farmers, provide employment to the youth, maintain the respect and safety of women.”