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92.94% of votes: How Pushkar Singh Dhami sailed, Congress never came close

With Dhami picking up 58,258 votes or 92.94% of the total polled, all the other three contestants lost their deposits.

Written by Avaneesh Mishra |
Updated: June 6, 2022 2:13:48 am
Former BJP chief Murli Manohar Joshi congratulates Pushkar Singh Dhami on his victory. (Twitter)

WITH HIS Champawat bypoll win, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami didn’t just comprehensively silence any remaining quibbles over him securing the post after the Assembly poll loss, but also set several records along the way.

It was the biggest-ever win in any bypoll in the state. Dhami defeated his Congress opponent by over 55,000 votes. The highest so far had been Vijay Bahuguna’s win from Sitarganj bypoll in 2012, where he had led his BJP rival by 39,954 votes; Bahuguna was also the CM at the time.

With Dhami picking up 58,258 votes or 92.94% of the total polled, all the other three contestants lost their deposits. The second placed, the Congress’s Nirmala Gahtori, got 3,233 votes in comparison.

The EVM tally per round shows that Dhami gained a significant lead in the first round, and maintained it in all 13. In the first round, he received 3,856 votes to Gahtori’s 164; in the second, 3,579 votes to her 148; in the third, 3,182 votes to her 113; in the fourth, 2,598 votes to only 67 for Gahtori; and so on. Dhami also led Gahtori by a wide margin in postal ballots — 990 to 86.

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In the recent Assembly elections, the Champawat seat had been won by Kailash Chandra Gahtori for the second time. However, his victory margin was just about 5,300 votes, against an old Congress veteran from here, Hemesh Kharkwal. In 2017 too, Gahtori had defeated Kharkwal, by over 17,000 votes.

While the BJP had created history and returned back to power in Uttarakhand by winning 47 of the 70 seats in the recent Assembly elections, Dhami had lost from Khatima to the Congress’s Bhuwan Chandra Kapri. The BJP had reappointed him as CM, and Dhami needed to get elected to the Assembly within six months from taking over on March 23.

Gahtori had then vacated the Champawat seat for Dhami to contest from.

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While Dhami’s win in the bypoll was not surprising, the scale of it led the Congress to allege rigging. Among those who turned up to campaign for Dhami was Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, who belongs to Uttarakhand. Adityanath, who had held only one rally in Uttarakhand during the Assembly elections, said in his speech that Dhami could have won had he campaigned for him in the March polls.

The Congress also made Dhami’s task easier by failing to find a strong candidate against him. Nirmala Gahtori was picked after the Congress’s original choice, Kharkwal declined to contest what was seen as a losing battle. The BJP played this up, saying the Congress had given Dhami a “walkover”.

Before the bypoll, a senior Congress leader had told The Indian Express that the party was focusing on ensuring that Dhami’s victory margin was not too high. By those standards too, the result is a disappointment to the party.

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First published on: 05-06-2022 at 06:40:27 pm

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