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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Uttarakhand: After leadership change, BJP wins Salt bypoll with increased vote share

Days after changing Chief Minister and the party state president, ruling BJP in Uttarakhand has recorded a win in Salt assembly constituency by-poll and retained the seat by defeating Congress by a margin of 4697 votes, results of which were declared on Sunday.

Written by Lalmani Verma | Dehradun |
May 3, 2021 5:59:51 am
In a programme organised at party office to celebrate the victory, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat expressed gratitude to voters of Salt for supporting BJP nominee Jeena in the by-poll.

Days after changing Chief Minister and the party state president, ruling BJP in Uttarakhand has recorded a win in Salt assembly constituency by-poll and retained the seat by defeating Congress by a margin of 4697 votes, results of which were declared on Sunday.

BJP had won the seat by defeating Congress in 2017 too but then margin was 2907 votes only.

In the by-poll, BJP candidate Mahesh Jeena got 21874 votes that is 52 per cent of polled votes while opponent Congress nominee Ganga Pancholi got 17177 votes that is 41 per cent of polled votes. NOTA recorded 721 votes that stood third highest after vote share of BJP and Congress.

In 2017, BJP’s vote share was 50 per cent and Congress’s was 43.35 per cent. BJP’s vote share has increased while Congress recorded a decline in the by-poll in comparison to 2017.

Mahesh is elder brother of Surender Singh Jeena who was elected MLA from this seat in 2017 and by-poll was caused after his death while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 infection in Delhi in November last year. Surender was three-term MLA from Salt.

In a programme organised at party office to celebrate the victory, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat expressed gratitude to voters of Salt for supporting BJP nominee Jeena in the by-poll. Salt by-poll was first election after Tirath replaced Trivendra Singh Rawat as chief minister and hence the result matters for him a lot.

Reacting to the by-poll results, AICC general secretary Harish Rawat alleged that BJP misused money and government machinery to win the election. Sources in Congress said that defeat is setback for Harish Rawat as Ganga Pancholi had got the ticket on his recommendation and he had also campaigned despite a health conditions.

Significantly, Surender Sigh Jeena is third BJP MLA who died in past three years as three-time MLA from Pithoragarh Prakash Pant had occurred in 2019 and Tharali MLA Magan Lal Shah had died in 2018. BJP had retained both Tharali and Pithoragarh seats in by-polls by fielding spouse of late legislatures. For Salt, BJP picked Jeena’s brother and got benefit of sympathy votes as well.

Polling in Salt was on April 17 and a week before that, Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat— “considering the public sentiments”— had suspended the decision of his predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat who had announced to make Gairsain as new administrative division, the third commissionerate in the state after Kumaon and Garhwal. There was strong resentment among people in Almora against Trivedra’s decision and Congress had made it an issue in the poll campaign.

Interestingly, during the counting exercise on Sunday, the poll personnel in counting halls were served “kadha” instead of traditional tea and coffee, according to poll officials.

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