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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Ellenabad bypoll: Abhay Chautala manages to retain seat in neck-and-neck battle with BJP

Amid the farmers agitation, the bypoll was being seen as a tough contest for BJP-JJP but the final results showed that it was not a cake walk for Abhay Chautala.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 3, 2021 7:55:56 am
Abhay Singh ChautalaINLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala (file photo)

Indian National Lok Dal’s Abhay Chautala managed to retain his stronghold constituency Ellenabad as he registered a consecutive victory in the bypoll by 6,739 votes, defeating BJP-JJP’s Gobind Kanda in a close contest, while Congress candidate Pawan Beniwal finished a distant third.

Amid the farmers agitation, the bypoll was being seen as a tough contest for BJP-JJP but the final results showed that it was not a cake walk for Abhay Chautala. While Abhay got 65,992 votes, Kanda got 59,253 votes while Pawan Beniwal got 20,904 votes. On October 30, the constituency had polled nearly 81.38 per cent votes.

Abhay’s resignation on January 27 in support of farmers ongoing agitation had necessitated the bypoll in Ellenabad.

As per the final results, the vote share was: INLD with 43.5 per cent votes, BJP-JJP with over 39 per cent and Congress with nearly 14 per cent votes.

Abhay Chautala managed to maintain the lead right from the first round in the total 16 rounds of counting of votes. After 10 rounds, INLD supporters began assembling outside Chaudhary Devi Lal University in Sirsa where counting was being conducted under tight security. INLD supporters set off fireworks as a mark of celebration of their candidate’s victory.

Abhay Chautala, describing his victory as a win of “farmers and people of Ellenabad” said, “Had BJP-JJP not indulged in horse-trading and Congress not colluded with them, I would have won with a margin of at least over 20,000 votes. It is not my victory, it is the win of farmers and people of Ellenabad. This bypoll was always a contest between farmers and the government. Congress too colluded with BJP and tried to bring me down. They all failed.”

Abhay’s son Karan Chautala said, “Win is always a win. The government used all its power, but failed. It is a shame for the government that loses bypoll. Right from day one, we had been saying that it was a contest of farmers and people of Ellenabad versus government. The margins of win do not matter.”

While the vote shares of both INLD and BJP-JJP increased in comparison to the 2019 assembly elections, Congress registered a significant decline in its vote share.

In 2019 assembly polls, Abhay’s margin was about 11000 votes. However, the political scenario was different in Ellenabad constituency, this time. In 2019 assembly polls, BJP and JJP had contested the constituency separately. In 2019, while Abhay got approximately 57,000 votes, Pawan Beniwal (that time a BJP candidate) finished second with about 45,000 votes while Congress’ Bharat Singh Beniwal had got approximately 35,000 votes and JJP candidate OP Sihag had received over 6500 votes. This time, Pawan Beniwal contested on a Congress ticket while BJP-JJP contested the constituency as an alliance.

Reacting to Abhay Chautala’s win in Ellenabad, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said, “Technically Abhay Chautala has won, but ethically he has lost. The issue on which he had resigned has been completely negated by the people of Ellenabad.”

Although the farmers agitation appeared to have played a part in Abhay Chautala’s win in the crucial bypoll, BJP dismissed it. “Had it [the farmers ongoing agitation] been an issue in the bypoll, the victory margin should have been huge, which is not seen in the bypoll’s results,” said Vij.

Against the presumptions, the BJP-JJP candidate also got significant votes from rural areas. Urban area votes were counted in the eighth, ninth and tenth rounds. BJP-JJP got more votes than INLD in urban areas. Subsequently, from the eleventh round onwards, counting of votes for rural areas resumed and INLD again began gaining. Once counting of urban areas’ votes concluded and only rural areas were left, Abhay Chautala reached the counting centre where he was welcomed by his party workers and supporters.

Reacting to Ellenabad’s results, HPCC chief Kumari Selja said, “I congratulate INLD’s Abhay Chautala for his victory. I hope that he will fulfill people’s expectations from him.” Taking a dig at BJP-JJP’s loss in the bypoll, Selja added, “Despite adopting all possible tactics, the ruling dispensation had to face the bypoll. People of Ellenabad gave a befitting reply to BJP-JJP. The defeat of ruling dispensation shows that people of Ellenabad have completely rejected the three central farm legislations. The government should learn a lesson from this loss and immediately withdraw the three central farm legislations, control the price rise and generate employment for jobless youth of the state.”

On her own party’s defeat in the bypoll, Selja said, “The entire Congress party and its workers did their best. I thank them all for their hardwork.”

“All three were contesting together. Congress, however, lost its security deposit. All three of them are trying to weaken the ongoing farmers agitation, to malign it. But, people rejected them and gave them a befitting reply,” Abhay Chautala said.

“We accept people’s mandate. Wherever some lapses were left, we shall work on those. We shall introspect the results within the party,” Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said.

“I thank people of Ellenabad for their support. People of Ellenabad did vote for BJP in good numbers. On the other hand, Congress rather lost its security deposit. Had Congress lost a few more votes, BJP-JJP would have been in first place,” said BJP’s state chief Om Prakash Dhankar.

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