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By-election results: Congress wins 3, shock defeat for Mamata

By-election results: Congress wins 3, BJP and ally 2; TMC suffers shock defeat in West Bengal. Mamata claims, Congress & CPIM are all playing the communal card.

The assembly by-election results on Thursday brought some solace for the Congress as it pulled one seat each away from the BJP and the TMC in Maharashtra and West Bengal respectively and retained a seat in Tamil Nadu with DMK’s support, while the BJP and its ally AJSU bagged one seat each in the western state and Jharkhand.

While the party’s performance was miserable in the assembly poll in Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya, Congress general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh said the bypoll results were “very encouraging”. “We are building the Congress for the future and those who thought they will make it big by breaking the Congress have not achieved any success,” Ramesh said in an apparent dig at TMC.

The bypolls saw the first direct contest between the ruling BJP-Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the opposing MVA after the change of government in Maharashtra in June last year. As the bypolls had become an issue of prestige for the MVA as well as the ruling Shinde-BJP coalition in the state, senior leaders like NCP president Sharad Pawar, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis campaigned for their respective candidates. In Chinchwad seat, BJP’s Ashwini Jagtap was ahead with 1.12 lakh votes against NCP’s Nana Kate who had bagged around 84,000 votes.

The election commission was yet to formally declare the result at 8 pm. The byelection was necessitated due to the death of incumbent BJP MLAs Mukta Tilak (Kasba) and Laxman Jagtap (Chinchwad).

Ruling DMK-backed Congress nominee EVKS Elangovan won in the Erode East byelection, with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin terming it a public endorsement of the “Dravidian model of governance” of his 22-month-old government. Elangovan won more than one lakh of 1.7lakh votes polled on February 27. With the “historic and grand win”, the ground was being prepared for an even bigger victory of the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Stalin told reporters.

By-election to the constituency, seen as a fight for prestige for state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury in his home district of Murshidabad, was necessitated following the death of state minister Subrata Saha in December last year. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to hold on to the Chinchwad seat in Maharashtra’s Pune but suffered a setback as it failed to Kasba Peth Assembly seat, its stronghold in the district, as Congress candidate Ravindra Dhangekar defeated the saffron party nominee Hemant Rasane.

The BJP held the seat for 28 years. Girish Bapat, the current BJP MP from Pune, represented the seat five times till 2019. Dhangekar, who was supported by Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), polled 73,194 votes while Rasane received 62,244 votes, as per figures on the Election Commission’s website after the final round of counting.

BJP state president K Annamalai said he did not see it as an endorsement of the government’s performance and indicated factors like “sympathy” were also there, apparently referring to Elangovan being the father of E Thirumahan Everaa, the Congress MLA whose demise in January necessitated the byelection.

AJSU Party candidate Sunita Choudhary won from Jharkhand’s Ramgarh defeating UPA-backed Congress’ Bajrang Mahto by a margin of 21,970 votes, the Election Commission said. The AJSU Party, which tied up with the BJP for the by-poll, secured 1,15,669 votes, while the Congress, an ally of the ruling JMM-led coalition, bagged 93,699 votes after the completion of counting, it said.

The by-election was necessitated due to the disqualification of Congress legislator Mamta Devi, following her conviction in a criminal case. The EC had in January announced that bypolls to the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha seat, along with six Assembly seats spread over five states – Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu – would be held on February 27.

The Lakshadweep seat was vacated following the disqualification of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member Mohammed Faizal after his conviction in a criminal case. However, on January 30, the EC withheld the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha byelection l after the Kerala High Court suspended the conviction and sentence of Faizal.

On January 25, the poll panel “revised” the date of polling, from February 27 to February 26, for bypolls in two assembly seats of Maharashtra’s Pune district after it was informed about the dates clashing with scheduled class 12 and graduation exams there.

In Arunachal Pradesh’s Lumla seat, BJP candidate Tsering Lhamu has declared elected the MLA without a contest on February 10. Lhamu, the wife of former MLA Jambey Tashi, was the only candidate who filed her nomination for the by-election which was necessitated due to the death of her husband in November last year.

The ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal suffered a shock defeat in Sagardighi which was won by Congress’ Bayron Biswas by 22,986 votes. It is the only seat held by Congress in the state assembly.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged the Congress and the CPI(M) had entered into an understanding with the BJP

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged the Congress and the CPI(M) had entered into an understanding with the BJP to defeat the Trinamool Congress with their “immoral” alliance.

BJP, Congress & CPIM all are together. All playing communal cards. TMC can fight these three forces all alone. We did this in 2021 as well.TMC will ally with people in 2024. We’ll not go with any other political party. We’ll fight alone with people’s support: West Bengal CM.

Banerjee also said that her party will go it alone in the 2024 elections, “with the support of common people” and the Congress should refrain from calling itself anti-BJP. “For the Sagardighi loss, I do not blame anyone… But, there is an immoral alliance, which we strongly condemn. The BJP transferred its votes to Congress…. everyone played the communal card. The BJP, of course, played the communal card. The Congress, CPI(M), however, turned out to be bigger players in this regard,” she told reporters.

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