The BJP registered an impressive win in the by-elections bagging five seats while the Congress won two seats in Karnataka. Fresh from a massive victory in the recently-held assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, BJP won the assembly bypolls in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Rajasthan. The party was leading in Jharkhand.The Congress won two assembly seats in Karnataka, while one assembly seat from West Bengal was won by the Trinamool Congress. Besides the Srinagar parliamentary seat, by-elections were held in 10 Assembly constituencies in seven states on Sunday. Of these, two seats each are in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh and one each in West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.
The BJP on Thursday won Delhi’s Rajouri Garden assembly by-poll with a margin of over 14,000 votes, pushing Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to a humiliating third spot.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Manjinder Singh Sirsa defeated his nearest rival Meenakshi Chandela of the Congress with 14,652 votes. With Sirsa’s win, the BJP will now have four MLAs in the 70-seat Delhi assembly.
After the final 17th round of counting, the Election Commission (EC) declared that Sirsa polled 40,602 votes, Chandela 25,950 and the AAP’s Harjeet Singh 10,243 out of a total 78,091 votes cast during an election on April 9. Nearly 1,300 votes were divided among the other contestants.
The AAP fared so badly at the by-poll that its candidate Harjeet Singh could not even save his deposit. To save his deposit, Singh should have got least 1/6th of the votes polled.
The seat had fallen vacant after AAP’s legislator Jarnail Singh resigned to contest the Punjab assembly polls on February 4 this year. Sirsa had won this seat in 2013 assembly polls, too, but had lost to Jarnail Singh in the 2015 elections.
The AAP had swept Delhi assembly elections in 2015 and had won 67 out of 70 seats.
Elated by its victory in Rajouri Garden assembly by-polls, the BJP said that people had given the AAP a “fitting gift” by defeating it and that the party was on the verge of extinction.
“Earlier, they…lost Punjab and Goa assembly polls and today’s (Thursday’s) result of the Rajouri Garden assembly by-poll is like the last nail in the coffin for AAP. It is on the verge of extinction,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
He added that people had lost faith in the AAP and its National Convener Arvind Kejriwal.
The BJP leader also tweeted: “AAP and Kejriwal have not just lost their deposit, they have (also) lost their credibility.”
“Neglecting Delhi people, Kejriwal went to Punjab and Goa for assembly elections. Now the residents of Delhi have neglected him,” Patra told reporters.
Reacting to AAP’s performance, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that Rajouri Garden voters were angry over AAP lawmaker Jarnail Singh’s resignation to contest the Punjab assembly elections, which led to the party’s poor show in the by-poll.
“People in the Rajouri Garden assembly constituency were angry after Jarnail Singh resigned… We tried to make them understand, but it seems they are still angry with the AAP,” Sisodia told reporters outside his official residence.
However, he said it was just a by-poll and that “we will keep preparing for the coming elections”.
The Rajouri Garden by-poll on Sunday had witnessed a poor turnout as only 47 per cent people cast their votes. In the 2015 assembly elections, when the AAP had swept to power, the constituency had seen 72 per cent ballotting.
Praveen Rai, a political expert at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, termed the defeat a “major blow” to the AAP and said it was time for the party to introspect.
“This is a signal that the AAP’s popularity is going down. This result will have a certain impact on MCD elections. If AAP loses MCD polls, then it will lose its narrative,” Rai said.
Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken termed the Rajouri Garden by-poll result a “referendum” on the Kejriwal government in Delhi.
Maken said that the AAP’s vote percentage in the constituency had gone four times down to its last vote share, while the Congress’ vote share increased three times to its previous figure.
“We have jumped from 12 per cent vote share for the constituency to 36 per cent in just two years,” Maken said.
West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress described its triumph in the Kanthi Dakshin assembly constituency by-poll as a reaffirmation of the people’s faith in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s developmental agenda.
“People reaffirm faith in Mamata Banerjee as Trinamool sweeps Kanthi Dakshin by-poll. We congratulate the people of Kathi for the result,” the Trinamool Congress posted on its Twitter handle.
Trinamool candidate and former Health Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya trounced the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sourindramohan Jana by over 42,000 votes in the six-cornered fight.
“We expected this result. The people of Dakshin Kanthi have wholeheartedly supported the wave of development under the guidance of our leader Mamata Banerjee. The result shows that the people of the state are with us,” said Bhattacharya, the winning candidate.
“Though the number of polled votes was less in the by-poll compared to the general election, our party has increased the vote percentage, which shows more people have come out to vote for us,” she said.
The Trinamool leaders also accused the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the BJP of having a “secret understanding” that enabled the latter to increase its vote share and jump to the second spot, pushing the Left Front nominated Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate to the third position.
“This is not that the voters are turning away from CPI-M to BJP. It is clearly a case of a secret understanding between the two parties that apparently shows BJP’s rise in the election,” Trinamool Congress leader Subhendu Adhikari claimed.
BJP candidate Sourindramohan Jana said his party had expected the result to be a “bit better”, but was “happy” with the outcome reflected the BJP’s growing popularity in the state.
“We expected the result to be a bit better, nevertheless we are happy with it. People came out to vote for us amid the atmosphere of terror created by the ruling party,” Jana said.
“This vote is against the growing hooliganism and lobbying of the ruling party. Also, people are slowly getting aware of the developmental schemes of the BJP. As a result, we have come to the second spot,” he added.
The BJP’s vote share has gone up by around 22 per cent compared to the assembly polls last year.
Communist Party of India candidate Uttam Pradhan, who had finished second in 2016, lost his security deposit this time.
The Congress also put up a poor show, with its nominee Nabakumar Chanda getting only around 1.3 per cent of the votes.
Left Front spearhead CPI-M conceded the result was “far from satisfactory”.
“The result is far from satisfactory. We have to evaluate the result to find out the lapses,” said Left Front legislature party leader and CPI-M state secretariat member Sujan Chakraborty.
The BJP won the Bandhavgarh assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh, while the Congress was leading in Ater as ballots cast in the two by-polls is still progressing.
According to Umaria district’s Public Relations Officer C.L. Patel, counting of votes has concluded in Bandhavgarh and BJP candidate Shivnarayan Singh has emerged the winner, defeating Savitri Singh of the Congress by 25,476 votes.
While the BJP candidate polled 74,356 votes, Savitri Singh could gather 48,880 votes, he said.
In Bhind district’s Ater constituency, Congress candidate Hemant Katare is leading the BJP’s Arvind Singh Bhadoria by 6,497 votes after 15 of the scheduled 21 rounds of vote counting.
The BJP was also tailing in postal ballot count.
There were 21 candidates in the fray in Ater, while five contested in Bandhavgarh.
Around 60 per cent voter turnout was reported in Ater during the polling on Sunday while the voting percentage was 65 in Bandhavgarh.
The Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) was used with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in both the by-polls.
The Ater assembly seat fell vacant following the death of sitting legislator Satyadev Katare of the Congress, while the by-poll in Bandhavgarh was necessitated after its legislator Gyan Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha in November by-election last year.
The BJP retained the Dhemaji assembly seat when its candidate Ranoj Pegu won the by-election to the assembly, defeating Babul Sonowal of the Congress by a margin of over 9,000 votes.
While Pegu polled 75,217 votes, Sonowal garnered 65,932 votes, the Election Commission website showed. Jadu Hazarika of the CPI-M received 4,944 votes, among others.
By-poll to the assembly from the Dhemaji constituency held on Sunday recorded close to 68.23 per cent voter turnout.
Of the 219,751 registered voters in the constituency, 148,658 votes were valid.
“I accept my victory and express my gratitude to the people… Our BJP government is completing one year in Assam and my victory indicates that people have accepted the party’s government,” said Ranoj Pegu after the results.
Dhemaji is Scheduled Tribes (ST) constituency and the by-poll was necessitated after the BJP’s legislator Pradan Baruah vacated the seat upon winning the poll for the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat.
A senior tribal politician, Ranoj Pegu headed the regional political party, Gana Shakti. He resigned from Gana Shakti in March and joined the BJP to contest the by-poll.
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is in alliance with the BJP along with Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), did not field any candidate in the Dhemaji by-poll.
The opposition BJP retained its stronghold of Bhoranj in Himachal Pradesh for the seventh consecutive term in the by-poll, an election official said.
It attributed its victory to poor governance and lack of development by the Congress government.
In a straight contest, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Anil Dhiman, a physician by profession, defeated Promila Devi of the Congress by a margin of 8,290 votes in the by-election held on April 9 for the constituency in Hamirpur district.
Dhiman polled 24,434 votes against 16,144 votes of Promila Devi, a two-time Zila Parishad member, an Election Commission official said.
A total of 263 voters opted NOTA (none of the above) as they did not find any candidate suitable.
The by-poll was necessitated following the death of two-time former Cabinet Minister I.D. Dhiman, who had won six consecutive elections from this constituency from 1990.
Anil Dhiman, who was leading in all the 12 rounds of vote count, is the son of the late I.D. Dhiman.
The election saw over 63 per cent voting.
The leader of Opposition and two-time BJP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told reporters that this victory was a clear indication that the party was going to form the next government in the state.
He attributed his party’s victory to poor governance and lack of overall development in the state.
Assembly elections in the state are due in December. With this victory, the BJP is also hoping to win for the first time the Shimla Municipal Corporation polls slated in June.
“This election was the semi-final ahead of the main election in the state,” Anil Dhiman said over the phone.
An elated BJP state chief Satpal Satti said corruption and the mafia rule in the state was the main poll plank in this election.
“This poll has stamped out a future victory,” he added.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said Bhoranj has never remained the Congress bastion since long.
“It should not be taken as a mandate for the assembly elections,” he told reporters here.
The ruling Congress retained the two assembly sets of Nanjangud (SC) and Gundlupet in Karnataka.
In the prestigious Nanjangud constituency, ruling party candidate K. Keshavamurthy defeated his nearest rival Srinivasa Prasad of the BJP by a margin of 21,334 votes.
In Gundlupet, Mohan Kumari Uruf alias Geetha of the Congress, defeated nearest rival C.S. Niranjankumar of the BJP by a margin of 10,877 votes.
The by-election was held on April 9.
Of the 1,56,315 votes polled in Nanjangud, Keshavamurthy secured 86,212 (55 per cent) and Prasad 64,878 (41.5 per cent).
The rest of the votes were shared by nine other candidates, including Independents. The total electorate in the reserved seat is 2,01,823.
In Gundlupet, of the 1,74,955 votes polled, Geetha bagged 90,260 (51.6 per cent) and Niranjankumar 79,383 (45.4 per cent), while seven other candidates, including Independents shared the remaining votes.The total electorate in the seat is 2,00892.
The opposition Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) retained the Littipara assembly seat with its candidate Simon Marandi defeating his BJP rival Hemlal Murmu by 12,900 votes in the April 9 bypoll.
The JMM candidate got 65,551 votes while Murmu managed 52,651 votes. In 2014, the JMM won the seat by over 10,000 votes.
The seat fell vacant after JMM legislator Anil Murmu died following a heart attack in January 2017.
More than 72 per cent polling was recorded in the bypoll for the seat, where 10 candidates were in the fray.
The bypoll turned out to be an issue of prestige for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition JMM as the former tried to wrest the seat that the JMM has held for the last 40 years.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das campaigned in the assembly segment to boost the chances of his party candidate.
“The bypoll result is a referendum on the state government move to amend the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. People have expressed their feelings by ensuring the BJP defeat. The amendment to the two land laws is against the wishes of the state’s people,” JMM General Secretary Suprio Bhattacharya said. (IANS)