TMC, Congress, RJD win; BJP draws blank in bypolls

TMC grabs Asansol from BJP, retains Ballygunge

Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna: The Trinamool Congress made a clean sweep on Saturday winning both the Asansol Lok Sabha and the Ballygunge Assembly seats in West Bengal.

The Congress bagged one Assembly constituency each in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh while the RJD won one Assembly seat in Bihar. The BJP drew a blank in the bypolls.

In West Bengal, all eyes were on the new TMC recruits and former BJP members – movie actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha and Babul Supriyo.

Sinha drubbed BJP's Agnimitra Paul by 3,03,209 votes in Asansol. The BJP had won the seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by 1.97 lakh votes when Mr Supriyo, who was then in the BJP, beat TMC's Moon Moon Sen.

Supriyo, who was nominated by the TMC from the prestigious Ballygunge assembly constituency, defeated CPI(M)'s Saira Shah Halim by a margin of 20,228 votes. BJP's Keya Ghosh managed to bag just 13,220 votes.

The TMC bagged Asansol in Burdwan West for the first time and with a record margin by snatching away the seat from the BJP, which had won riding on the popularity of Mr Supriyo in the last two consecutive terms, 2014 and 2019 LS polls.

Mr Sinha, was fielded by the TMC at Asansol after the seat fell vacant with the resignation of Mr Supriyo and his exit from the BJP. He later said, "The credit of this victory goes to Ms Banerjee. She is the real winner."

The bypoll in Ballygunge, which took place on April 12, was necessitated as state minister Subrata Mukherjee, who represented the assembly constituency, died last year.

Elated over her party's success West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee thanked voters of Asansol and Ballygunge for giving a decisive mandate to the TMC candidates.

"I sincerely thank the electors of the Asansol Parliamentary Constituency and the Ballygunge Assembly Constituency for giving decisive mandate to AITC party candidates," she tweeted.

"We consider this to be our people's warm Shubho Nababarsho gift to our Ma- Mati- Manush organization. Salute to the voters for reposing faith in us, yet again," she added.

BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said it is a general trend that the party in power in the state generally wins the by-elections.

In a boost to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) combine in Maharashtra, the Congress won the bypoll to the Kolhapur north assembly constituency, retaining the seat by defeating the BJP by a margin of over 18,000 votes.

Congress-MVA candidate Jayashri Jadhav bagged 96,176 votes, while BJP's Satyajeet Kadam polled 77,426 votes.

The by-election was necessitated because of the death of sitting Congress MLA Chandrakant Jadhav due to Covid in December 2021.

Newly-elected Ms Jadhav thanked the voters of Kolhapur and said all three constituents of the MVA worked together to clinch victory. Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole termed the party's win as "victory of progressive thoughts".

After the result, the BJP said it accepts the decision of voters and will work to further strengthen its base in Kolhapur, which is the hometown of state BJP president Chandrakant Patil.

“We congratulate Ms Jadhav. BJP’s votes increased from 41,000 to 78,000 and we will work harder to increase our support base further. The BJP fought alone against three parties and still it was a close contest,” Mr Patil said.

The ruling Congress in Chhattisgarh on Saturday won the bypoll to the Khairagarh assembly constituency in Rajnandgaon district with Yashoda Verma defeating her nearest rival Komal Janghel of the BJP by a margin of 20,176 votes. Ms Verma got 87,879 votes while Ms Janghel secured 67,703 votes.

Byelection was held following the death of incumbent JCC (J) MLA and former MP Devvrat Singh in November 2021. This was the fourth straight victory by Congress in the assembly byelections held in the state in the last three-and-a-half years.

“People have once again endorsed the welfare programmes and policies of the state government by ensuring victory of Congress in Khairagarh assembly by-elections,” chief minister Bhupesh Baghel observed.

BJP national vice-president and former chief minister Raman Singh said that the promise to create the new district of Khairagarh by the chief minister ahead of the by-elections had led to victory of Congress in the by-polls.

The opposition RJD in Bihar wrested the Bochahan assembly seat from the ruling NDA, with its candidate defeating the BJP nominee by a big margin of over 35,000 votes.

The seat is reserved for scheduled caste candidates and had fallen vacant after the death of Musafir Paswan, who had won the seat in the 2020 assembly elections for the Vikassheel Insan Party (VIP).

RJD candidate Amar Paswan, son of Musafir Paswan's, polled 82,116 votes while his nearest BJP rival Baby Kumari got only 45,353.

Expelled state minister Mukesh Sahani's Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), on the ticket of which Musafir Paswan had won the seat in 2020, finished a distant third with 29,671 votes. VIP was an NDA constituent till about a month ago.

Sources said that the poll result has stunned both the BJP and its partner JD(U) which had spearheaded a high voltage campaign for its candidate. However, the BJP leaders in its reaction said that “the bypoll results won’t have an impact on the NDA in Bihar. The RJD candidate got the sympathy votes due to the death of his father Musafir Paswan.”

Meanwhile RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav while expressing his happiness over the victory said, “People suffering from unemployment, inflation, poor health and education system, agriculture and law and order gave their answer. This is also a massive defeat of the double-engine government which is arrogant and involved in anti-people policies”.

The RJD’s victory in Bochaha has raised the party’s tally to 76 in the Bihar assembly. The RJD had won 75 seats in the 2020 assembly polls, which was the highest in Bihar. However, last month the BJP became the largest party with 77 seats in the Bihar assembly after it inducted three MLAs of the Vikassheel Insan Party.

After the political crisis in the VIP last month, the Bochaha seat had become a prestige issue for the BJP and RJD. Sources said that ministers and top BJP leaders were asked to camp in Muzaffarpur and Bochaha.

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