The ruling Congress on Tuesday touched the majority mark in the Uttarakhand Assembly by winning the Bhagwanpur bypoll, while the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which leads a coalition in Punjab, achieved a similar feat by winning the Dhuri seat. Results of four by-elections, two in Maharashtra and one each in Uttarakhand and Punjab held on April 11, were announced on Wednesday.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena’s Trupti Sawant defeated former chief minister and Congress candidate Narayan Rane by a margin of 19,008 votes in the by-election to the Bandra East constituency in Northwest Mumbai. Rane, a former Shiv Sena leader, had lost to Shiv Sena’s Vaibhav Naik in the Kudal seat in the Assembly poll held in October last year. The Sena received 52,711 votes against the 33,703 for the Congress and 15,050 for the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).
In the by-election to the Tasgaon-Kavathe Mahankal seat, RR Patil’s widow and NCP candidate Suman Patil won by 112,000 votes. The by-election to Bandra East seat was necessitated following the death of Sena MLA Prakash Sawant. The Sena fielded Sawant's widow Trupti.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had got 25,791 votes in the 2014 Assembly polls on the seat, supported Shiv Sena in this by-election. During the campaign, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis addressed a poll rally in the constituency and also had dinner at Uddhav’s residence. The Congress and NCP had contested the Assembly election separately but in the bypoll, NCP extended its support to Rane. Rane was also supported by the Samajwadi Party.
The Assembly by-election results have come as good news for ruling parties in Uttarakhand and Punjab. In Uttarakhand, the ruling Congress won the Bhagwanpur seat. It now has a majority 36 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly. Congress candidate Mamata Rakesh defeated the BJP candidate by nearly 37,000 votes.
The Harish Rawat-led Congress has now won four successive by-elections in the state. The coalition government has the support of the seven-member Progressive Democratic Front.
The election was held after Surendra Rakesh, who had won on the Bahujan Samaj Party ticket in 2012, passed away in February. He was one of the MLAs of the Front that supported the Rawat government and a minister in the state government. The Congress fielded his wife Mamata, from the Bhagwanpur scheduled caste reserved seat in Haridwar.
In Punjab, the SAD wrested the Dhuri Assembly seat from the Congress. Gobind Singh Longowal, a former minister and three-time MLA, defeated Congress-Sanjha Morcha joint candidate Simar Partap Singh, a political debutant and grandson of former Tamil Nadu Governor and Punjab chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala. The SAD, which runs a coalition with BJP, now has a majority on its own of 59 in the 117-member Assembly.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) retained the Charkhari Assembly seat in Mahoba. SP candidate Urmila Rajput defeated BJP’s Ganga Charan Rajput by over 40,000 votes. The by-election was held after SP MLA Kaptan Singh was disqualified over conviction in a 13-year-old murder case. Singh had won the by-election to Charkhari in September after sitting MLA Uma Bharti resigned when she was elected to the Lok Sabha. Bharti had defeated Singh in the 2012 Assembly election.