The Congress swept the assembly by-polls in Uttarakhand on Friday, bagging all three seats on offer and signaling a turnaround in the fortunes of the party which was decimated in the Lok Sabha polls.
The result -- coming against a BJP wave across the country -- took the ruling party's
tally to 35 in the 70-member House, just one short of majority.
Significantly, the result was also a vindication of the Congress central leadership's faith in chief minister Harish Rawat who was handed over the reins of the state in February.
Rawat himself was among the three elected MLAs, winning from Dharchula by defeating Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate BD Joshi by 20,000 votes.
The other two winners include Rekha Arya from Someshwar and Hira Singh Bisht from Doiwala, both wins coming against BJP candidates.
While Rekha Arya defeated Mohan Ram Arya by a margin of nearly 10,000 votes, Hira Singh Bisht got the better of Trivendra Singh Rawat by 6,515 votes.
The victory in Doiwala was all the more significant as the Congress managed to penetrate the BJP fortress after 20 years.
The party had failed to muster a majority in the 2012 assembly elections and existed on the prop of the seven-member Progressive Democratic Front (PDF), consisting of BSP, UKD and Independent MLAs.
Elated by the results, PCC spokesman Dhirendra Pratap claimed that the "Uttarakhand by-poll results, which have been overwhelmingly in favour of the Congress, show that the Modi magic has begun to fade".
Soon after the party's triumph, Rawat -- who had sought votes on the plank of stability -- thanked the people and promised to meet their expectations.
Celebrations broke out at the CM's residence where Congress workers joined folk dancers who performed to the accompaniment of traditional music being played live.
The BJP termed the results as disappointing but said the defeat didn't mean its mass base was slipping to the ruling party.
"No doubt, the results aren't up to our expectations. However, it would be premature to think that our mass base is slipping to the ruling Congress just because we've lost a few by-polls," said state BJP organisational secretary Sanjay.
In the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won all the five seats.
In the Assembly, its number of MLAs has now been reduced from 30 to 28.
Voting for the by-polls was held on July 21.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.