THE RULING BJP on Thursday emerged victorious in the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll in Maharashtra, defeating its ally in the state, the Shiv Sena, by a margin of 28,474 votes. The election saw the Congress being relegated to the fifth position — its worst performance in six decades — with its candidate polling only 47,713 votes (5.37 per cent).
The bitterly contested bypoll saw BJP’s Rajendra Gavit — a former Congress minister — polling 2,72,780 (30.75 per cent) votes and Sena’s Shrinivas Wanaga bagging 2,43,206 (27.42 per cent) votes. While the candidate of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, the runner-up in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, won the third spot with 2,22,837 votes (25.12 per cent), the CPI(M) candidate got 71,887 votes (8.1 per cent).
Speaking to mediapersons after the results were declared, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “I express gratitude to the people of Palghar for reposing their faith in the development work of the government.”
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, however, refused to acknowledge the BJP win. “The people have voted against the BJP. How can it be their victory?”
Congress state chief Ashok Chavan and NCP’s Nawab Mallik were unanimous in their argument that EVMs and misuse of power had helped the BJP get an edge.
The electoral outcome has thrown open new political dynamics in the state. The traditional tribal-dominated seat has, for the first time, brought Sena in political reckoning. Secondly, the Congress suffered a huge loss of face under the leadership of party national president Rahul Gandhi.
The bypoll was necessitated following the death of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga in January. It became a talking point after Sena fielded Wanaga’s son Shrinivas.
While the BJP went on accuse Sena of betrayal, Uddhav maintained that this was done to provide justice to the Wanaga family. The election saw high-voltage campaign with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis campaigning extensively. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union minister Smriti Irani also campaigned for the BJP nominee.
BJP loses Bhandara-Gondiya
The BJP on Thursday lost the Lok Sabha bypoll at Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra, with the Congress-NCP alliance winning the seat with a margin of 48,097 votes.
While NCP’s Madhukar Kukde polled 4,42,213 votes, BJP’s Hemant Patle could manage only 3,94,116 votes. The real winner, however, was Nana Patole — the incumbent BJP MP — who joined the Congress last year.
Accusing PM Narendra Modi of not listening to anyone, Patole had alleged that the PM had asked him to keep quiet when he had tried to raise the issue of farmers. While the BJP chose not to expel him, Patole joined the Congress, necessitating the bypoll.
“They tried their best to see to it that the election was not held because they were sensing defeat. They could have held it along with Gorakhpur bypolls (in March). They also campaigned against me personally, focusing on the allegation that I had thrust the election on the people of Bhandara-Gondiya. The CM even said in a public meeting that bypolls are held when somebody dies. People took it as an offence. Now, they should tell who has died in Bhandara-Gondiya,” Patole told The Indian Express.