The ruling Congress party in Uttarakhand on Wednesday swept the bypoll held for Bhagwanpur assembly seat by 36,909 votes.
With this win, the minority government of Harish Rawat achieved a majority in the state assembly with the 36 Congress MLAs — the magic figure required in the House of 70 members.
Congress candidate Mamta Rakesh polled 59,205 votes while her opponent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajpal Singh got just 22,296 votes. The seat was vacated early this year after the death of sacked Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislator and cabinet minister Surender Rakesh.
Going by the trend during poll campaign it was evidently clear that the Congress had a lead in Bhagwanpur since the BSP refused to contest the bypoll despite the fact that the Mayawati-led party has a strong following among the Muslims and Dalits in Bhagwanpur segment.
"This win has proved the popularity of CM Rawat and the Congress government in Uttarakhand," said Surendra Kumar, spokesperson for the CM.
The bypoll win has made Rawat stronger in the party while the BJP's defeat has come as a big blow to former CM and Haridwar MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who was reportedly seeking a berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet.
The victory in Bhagwanpur is the fifth bypoll win for the Congress in the state since 2012. Congress candidates, including CM Rawat, had won bypolls held for 3 assembly seats in August last year. Earlier in 2012, former CM Vijay Bahuguna had won the Sitarganj bypoll.
The BJP's state general secretary Naresh Bansal said that party will introspect on the result. Bansal also alleged that the "Bhagwanpur bypoll results indicate that the Congress misused power".