Assembly bye-polls: BJP wins in Jharkhand, MP, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today won bye-elections to five legislative assembly seats in Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh while the Trinamool Congress won a seat in Manipur.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda won the bye-election from Kharsawan constituency in Jharkhand; Ms Kumari Bai Sahu won from Durg district's Sanjari Balod seat in Chhattisgarh; Bhushan Bhatt from Khadia in Gujarat, Mukam Singh snatched Kukshi (ST) reserved seat and Rajendra Verma won Sonkatch assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh while Konthoujam Sarat of the Trinamool Congress won the Konthoujam byelection in Manipur.

Mr Munda won from Kharsawan by over 17,000 votes. The victory allows him to continue as Chief Minister by becoming an elected member of the assembly. Securing 61,801 votes, he defeated his nearest rival Dashrath alias Krishna Gagrai of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha who polled 44,355 votes.

This is Mr Munda's fourth successive victory from the same constituency, having earlier won it in 1995, 2000 and 2005. Mr Munda, currently a member of Lok Sabha from Jamshedpur, had to become a member of Jharkhand Legislative Assembly within six months of having become the Chief Minister of the state for the third time on September 11, last year to fulfil the Consitutional obligation.

Chief Minister Raman Singh's charisma helped the ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh notch up a victory in Durg district's Sanjari Balod bye-election. Ms Kumari Bai Sahu defeated her nearest Congress rival Mohan Patel by 9,665 votes.

The BJP retained the seat that was won by Ms Sahu's husband Madanlal Sahu in 2008 by a margin exceeding 6,000 votes over Mr Patel. The by-poll was necessitated by Sahu's death in August and voting took place on Monday.

In a straight contest between the two key political parties, Ms Sahu secured 64,185 votes. Barring Mr Patel, all 13 other candidates including those of the Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch and Adivasi Vikas Manch forfeited their deposits.

With this victory, the BJP's strength in the 90-member Assembly went up to 49. The Congress has 39, while the Bahujan Samaj Party has two legislators.

In another drubbing to opposition Congress in Gujarat, the ruling BJP retained the Khadia seat, which has been held by it for 25 years. BJP nominee Bhushan Bhatt defeated his Congress rival Jagat Shukla by 2,473 votes in a keenly contested by-election, caused by the death of Assembly Speaker Ashok Bhatt, who represented the urban constituency in Ahmedabad for eight terms.

In the voting held on February 14, Mr Bhushan Bhatt, son of late Ashok Bhatt, polled a total of 19501 votes, while Mr Shukla got 17,028 votes. Congress nominee Jagat Shukla was drubbed in the last election also at the hands of Ashok Bhatt, who died on September 29 last year.

Ruling BJP candidate Mukam Singh snatched the Kukshi (ST) assembly seat from Congress' Nisha Singhar in bye-election in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. He defeated Ms Singhar by a margin of over 16,000 votes to wrest the seat, official sources said.

Mr Singh, husband of Woman and Child Development Minister Ranjana Baghel, got over 60,200 votes while Ms Singhar bagged over 44,170 votes. The BJP got the seat after about two decades.

For the Congress it was a jolt because it expected to gain there by encashing sympathy votes after fielding the niece of late leader of the Opposition Jamuna Devi. But the electorate negated and vote for the BJP candidate.

The Kukshi constituency was considered a bastion of the Congress as Devi won the seat since 1993. She also won in 1998, 2003 and 2008 Assembly elections. Earlier, BJP candidate Ranjana Baghel defeated Devi in 1990 Assembly polls.

BJP candidate Rajendra Verma was declared elected from Sonkatch defeating his nearest Congress rival Arjun Verma by 19,437 votes. The BJP wrested the seat from the Congress. Announcement of the result was delayed as the seals of three electronic voting machines were found broken. The constituency  was in the grip of Congress' Sajjan Singh Verma since 1998. Mr A Verma is his relative.

Following Mr A Verma's complaint regarding the EVMs, the District Returning Officer sought the Election Commission of India's guidelines. After a space of about three hours, the ECI said that votes cast in one of the EVMs be counted and the other two annulled.

After the final round of counting, Mr R Verma won 74,336 votes while Mr A Verma got 54,899. The other eight candidates -- all independents -- received a total 7,832 votes. The bye-election was necessitated after Mr S S Verma was elected to Parliament.

Konthoujam Sarat of the Trinamool Congress won the Konthoujam byelection in Manipur. He defeated his nearest rival Dr S Ranjan of the Congress by a margin of about 651 votes. Mr Sarat bagged 9,582 votes while Dr Ranjan got 8,937 votes.


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