Chhattisgarh's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled off an impressive victory on Monday in the state assembly by-election from the Bhatgaon constitueny in Surguja district, handing over one of the worst defeats to arch rival Congress in recent years.
BJP candidate Rajni Tripathi won the seat by a margin of over 35,000 votes, defeating her nearest rival, Congress candidate U.S. Singhdeo. The poolls to the seat were held Oct 1 and there were 12 candidates in the fray.
The seat fell vacant following the death of the BJP's sitting legislator Ravi Shankar Tripathi, 55, in a car crash in April and the BJP fielded his widow while the Congress picked a member of the erstwhile royal family of Surguja as its candidate. The Bhatgaon constituency, some 400 km north of state capital Raipur in Surguja district, recorded over 75 percent votes in peaceful polling.
Buoyed by the victory, the BJP has described the win as the "people's approval of our development policy".
"People have reiterated faith in the BJP and has given a thumbs-up to the party to carry on the development policy and welfare schemes for poor and downtrodden people with more committment," Chief Minister Raman Singh said as he reacted to the party's success.
The Congress, which had high hopes from the by-election, did not have much to say after the defeat.
State party president Dhanendra Sahu said: "We will analyse in detail as to what went wrong."
With the impressive victory, the BJP's strength in the 90-member state assembly has risen to 48 while the Congress remains on 39. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has two members.
The by-election to the Balod assembly constituency in Durg district is set to be held soon following the death of the BJP's sitting legislator Madanlal Sahu in August.