The sons of two previous legislators lived up to their legacies in the Godda and Panki assembly seats in Santhal Parganas and Palamu districts respectively.
BJP’s Amit Mandal and Congress candidate Devendra Kumar Singh won the bypolls necessitated by their fathers’ deaths — the Godda assembly seat was vacated after death of BJP legislator Raghunandan Mandal in February while the Panki seat fell vacant after the death of sitting Congress legislator Bidesh Singh in March.
It seemed that the voters saw little different between the fathers and sons, with Amit and Devendra winning their respective seats with margins very similar to those won by their fathers. Both Mandals comprehensively beat their opponents: father Raghunandan defeated his nearest rival — RJD’s Sanjay Prasad Yadav — by a margin of 34,486 votes in the 2014 assembly polls, while Amit’s margin of victory was only slightly higher, defeating Yadav by 34,551 votes.
Similarly, both father and son had a close-run contest in Panki. Father Bidesh Singh scraped by in the 2014 assembly polls, defeating independent candidate Shashi Bhushan Mehta by a mere 1,950 votes. This time around, son Devendra Singh garnered just 3,558 votes more than Mehta, who was now contesting on a JMM ticket.
The results came as a blow for the RJD, with Lalu Prasad’s party still to open its account in Jharkhand — the party, along with the JD (U), are unrepresented in the current Jharkhand assembly.
Meanwhile, a Congress win in Panki has come as a relief for the grand old party, as it will bolster its claim on one of two Rajya Sabha seats, which will go to polls on June 11. Congress nominee Dheeraj Shahu’s term is coming to an end and the party has evinced its intention to contest the seat despite having only seven members in the Assembly.
The JMM is pledging to go alone but with its 19 candidates, Shibu Soren’s party has an equally strong claim for the seat.
The other Rajya Sabha seat will be vacated by BJP’s MJ Akbar and a BJP win on at least one of the two seats is a foregone conclusion.