Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ganesh Joshi gained notoriety in Uttarakhand after he attacked Shaktimaan, a police horse, during a rally early last year. The animal eventually succumbed to its injuries over a month later.
The incident, however, didn’t affect the electoral prospects of the controversial leader, who decimated his Congress rival – Godavari Thapli – by nearly 12,000 votes to win the Mussoorie constituency on Saturday.
Joshi hit the headlines on March 14, 2016, when a video that showed him assaulting the white horse with a cane during a protest rally outside the state assembly in Dehradun went viral. His act was condemned by Twitter users and wildlife activists alike.
The next day, a team of veterinarians from Pantnagar visited Shaktimaan at Police Lines and operated on its injured limb. When the injured animal didn’t seem to show any sign of recovery by March 17, they amputated its limb and replaced it with an artificial metal limb.
Joshi was arrested after a complaint was lodged against him at the Nehru Colony police station. He was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days, before being granted bail on March 22.
Meanwhile, Shaktimaan seemed to be getting better. By March 19, it was even able to stand with the help of artificial support. Noting the improvement in its health, veterinarians fitted a US-made prosthetic limb to the horse on April 10. However, the horse was unable to adapt to its new leg, and eventually died on April 20.
A team of equine experts, headed by leading veterinary surgeon Dr Phiroz Khambatta, kept monitoring Shaktimaan through its month-long struggle for survival after the attack.
Police later installed a statue inside Police Lines and dedicated a petrol pump in Shaktimaan’s memory. The controversy, however, refused to die down. In August, Robert Wadra – son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi – entered into a verbal spat with Joshi in this regard at the Dehradun Airport.
Joshi had won the Mussoorie seat in 2012 too, defeating Congress rival Jot Singh Gunsola by a margin of 9,776 votes. The Congress had won the constituency in the 2002 and 2007 assembly elections.
In 2007, Joshi emerged victorious from Rajpur Road by defeating Congress candidate Hira Singh Bisht.