Dhinakaran wins Jaya’s seat in setback to AIADMK, DMK

TMC wrests Sabang from Cong.; BJP holds Sikandra, wins two Arunachal seats

T.T.V. Dhinakaran, dissident leader of the AIADMK, notched up an impressive victory in the prestigious Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly byelection, with a margin of over 40,000 votes. Sunday’s results of other byelections across three States brought good news for the All-India Trinamool Congress and the BJP, but disappointment for the Congress days after its decent showing in Gujarat.

Mr. Dhinakaran, who contested as an Independent with the pressure cooker as his symbol, in the constituency last held by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, scored a big victory over his nearest rival E. Madhusudhanan of the AIADMK. The win breaks the State’s trend of returning nominees of the party in power in byelections for the past 13 years.

With 89,013 votes, Mr. Dhinakaran was a clear 40,707 votes ahead of Mr. Madhusudhanan’s 48,306 votes. The DMK’s N. Marudu Ganesh got a mere 24,651 votes and forfeited his deposit, along with 56 other candidates. The total number of votes polled was 1,76,890 with a turnout of 77.5%.

‘True AIADMK’

Mr. Dhinakaran termed his victory that of “genuine workers” of the AIADMK and said he would take the advice of his aunt and deposed former party general secretary V.K. Sasikala, now serving a prison sentence in Bengaluru following her conviction in a disproportionate assets case. The sidelined AIADMK leader said, “We are the true AIADMK… people of R.K. Nagar have elected Amma’s successor.”

PM thanks voters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the BJP victories in Sikandra in U.P. and Likabali and Pakke Kesang in Arunachal Pradesh, saying his party was committed to serving the country’s villages.

TMC supporters celebrate after party candidate Gita Rani Bhunia won Sabang Assembly by-election in West Midnapore district on Sunday

He also expressed happiness over the party’s improved performance in the Sabang bypoll in West Bengal.

“My gratitude to the people of Sikandra for once again supporting BJP,” Mr. Modi said. In another tweet on the Arunachal victories, he said, “We derive immense strength from this affection and remain committed to transforming the northeast.”

The TMC wrested the Sabang Assembly seat from the Congress, with its candidate Gita Rani Bhunia bagging 51% of the 1,06,179 votes polled — a 15 percentage point increase from the last elections. While the CPI(M) came second polling 41,987 votes, the BJP came in third with 37,476 votes, up from the 5,610 votes it got last time. The BJP’s vote share went up to 18%.

The biggest loser was the Congress, which slipped to a distant fourth position with 18,060 votes. The party’s Manas Bhunia had won the seat last time in alliance with the CPI (M). He defected to the TMC early in 2017, becoming a Rajya Sabha MP. The TMC fielded his wife from the seat this time.

“This is a victory of Mamata Banerjee’s developmental politics. The people of both urban and rural Bengal stand with her. This is a victory against the divisive politics of the BJP,” Mr. Bhunia said.

No surprises in U.P.

The BJP retained the Sikandra Assembly seat in U.P. by a margin of over 11,000 votes.

The party’s Ajit Singh Pal secured 73,284 votes (44.86%), while the Samajwadi Party’s Seema Sachan stood second with 61,423 votes (37.60%). There was no SP-Congress alliance this time, unlike for the Assembly polls. The Congress’ Prabhakar Pandey bagged 19,084 votes, higher than the BJP’s victory margin of 11,861 votes.

The Congress and SP candidates disrupted counting created a ruckus during the counting, claiming EVM seals had been broken, but the police denied any interference in counting.

The Sikandra bypoll was necessitated followed the death of its sitting BJP MLA Mathura Prasad Pal, who had in the last assembly polls got 87,879 votes in last years Assembly polls, as against the 49,776 votes polled by his nearest Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) rival Mahendra Katiyar (Bablu). The BJP’s victory came amid a diminished victory margin.

BJP show in Arunachal

In Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP wrested both the Pakke-Kessang and Likabali Assembly seats from the Congress in the by-elections.

The BJP now has 49 MLAs in the 60-member House and the Congress just one.

B.R. Waghe of the BJP won the Pakke-Kessang seat by a narrow margin of 475 votes, defeating his lone rival and former deputy chief minister, Kameng Dolo of the Congress. In the Likabali seat, the BJP’s Kardo Nyigyor won by a slender margin of 305 votes, defeating his nearest rival Gumke Riba of the PPA.

While the BJP candidate polled 3,461 votes, the PPA nominee secured 3,156 votes in the constituency, which witnessed a multi-cornered contest. Congress candidate Modam Dini could secure only 362 votes.

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju congratulated the BJP members for the victory in the bypolls.

“This Christmas celebration has become all the more special. People of the two constituencies (Likabali and Pakke-Kessang) have shown that they are with good governance and development,” Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said. “By electing BJP nominees they (people) foresee accelerated development of their respective regions.”

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