At the end of the counting of votes cast on electronic voting machines, Mukherjee was leading by a small but decisive margin of 2,536 votes over his nearest CPI-M rival Muzaffar Hussain.
According to the Election Commission, at the end of the final seventeenth round of counting, Mukherjee bagged 3,32,919 votes while the CPI-M candidate managed to get 3,30,383 votes. The Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the former finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who represented the constituency moved to Rashtrapati Bhavan as the country’s President in July. Pranab Mukherjee had won the seat in 2009 by a thumping margin of over 1,28,149 votes.
Bahuguna’s son loses election
Saturday saw President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit winning in the Lok Sabha by-election with a slender margin from the Jangipur constituency in West Bengal. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket was not so lucky.
He lost in the Tehri Lok Sabha by-poll with a margin of 22,431 votes against BJP’s lesser-known candidate Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah, a daughter-n-law of the former Tehri royal family. “The cap on LPG cylinders and hike in their prices remain the big issues which also went against our candidate,” said a Congress leader adding the hike of Rs 11.42 in cooking gas cylinders few days worked as the last nail in the coffin. Political observers said the victory of Shah is more important in the context that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) campaign remained lacklustre as compared to that of Congress party.
She also did not get whole-hearted support by some top state party leaders.
Nevertheless, riding on the crest of a strong anti-incumbency wave, Shah wrested the Tehri seat for the BJP from Congress after a gap of five years. Before becoming an MLA from Sitarganj in July, the chief minister had represented Tehri Lok Sabha seat twice since 2007. Before Bahuguna, Shah’s father-in-law Manvendra Shah had won for a record eight times from Tehri.
Immediately after the result, a section of Congress leaders began a campaign against Bahuguna alleging that Saket was not the right choice. “A chief minister should be large-hearted when it comes to the distribution of tickets,” said Congress leader and former Tehri MLA Kishor Upadhyay, who was also a front-runner for the Tehri bypoll.
According to Chowdhury, the fact that the Trinamool Congress did not put up a candidate has gone in favour of the CPI-M and BJP. “TMC had asked Hindus to vote for BJP, while Muslim supporteres were asked to vote for CPI-M’s muslim candidate.”
TMC, however, rejected the explanation given by the Congress. “We supported Abhijit only because CPI-M is our main opponent. BJP is still not a factor in the state.”
This is the first election in Bengal after the recent Congress-TMC split.
In the 2011 Assembly election, the Congress party had five of the seven Assembly constituencies under the Jangipur Lok Sabha seat while CPI-M and TMC bagged one each.
However, as per the by-election, CPI-M is leading in four assembly seats, while Congress is ahead in three assembly seats.
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