BJD wins crucial Bijepur bypoll, CM Patnaik says result would impact 2019 polls
Biju Janata Dal’s candidate Rita Sahu secured 102,871 votes while BJP’s Panigrahi bagged 60,938 votes.Updated: Feb 28, 2018 19:28 IST
Setting at rest all speculation about any dip in his popularity ahead of next year’s assembly and Lok Sabha elections, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday powered the ruling Biju Janata Dal to a thumping win in the Bijepur assembly bypoll in Bargarh district with an impressive margin of over 41,000 votes.
BJD’s Rita Sahu, widow of deceased Congress MLA Subal Sahu, bagged 1,02,871 votes while Ashok Panigrahi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got 60,938 votes, said returning officer Tapiram Majhi.
Congress as candidate Pranaya Sahu had to bite the dust with just 10,274 votes, forefeiting his security deposit for not being able to poll 1/6th of the total votes. It was a humiliating defeat for the Congress as it held the seat for last three terms. The Bijepur by-poll was necessitated by the death of Congress MLA Subal Sahu, who succumbed to cancer last August.
Patnaik, who had staked his popularity in the bypoll, thanked the people of Bijepur for the mandate and said the results would impact the 2019 polls. “Odisha is a peace-loving state and the people will not stand for violence which is a threat to democracy,” he said, referring to the death of a BJD worker in Bargarh at the hands of miscreants. During campaigning, Patnaik too had a chappal hurled at him, but he carried on gamely.
BJP leader KV Singhdeo said his party fought the Bijepur bypoll on the principle of collective responsibility and hard work. “We accept the mandate of the people. I would like to thank all our karyakartas and leaders for the sincerity and hard work they put in,” said Singhdeo.
BJP candidate Ashok Panigrahi said Congress votes got diverted towards the BJD. “We were at the third position during the 2014 general elections. However, we have secured the second position this time,” he said, alleging that BJD had distributed cash among the voters to influence them.
By-election was held on February 24 in which around 82.17 per cent of the voters had cast their votes.
The Bijepur defeat has come as a setback for union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who had mounted a tough challenge, deploying several union ministers to canvass for the BJP candidate. The BJP had swept the zilla parishad polls in Bijepur during February last year and was hoping to build on its support base and win the assembly seat.