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The Times of India
The Times of India

Setback for Naveen Patnaik as BJD faces 1st bypoll loss since 2009

NEW DELHI: BJP’s win in Odisha’s Dhamnagar seat marked former ally BJD’s first bypoll loss since 2009 and is being seen as a setback for CM Naveen Patnaik ahead of next month’s Padampur byelection and the 2024 state elections. While the party flag made its first appearance in Adampur following the Bishnoi crossover, its win in Gola Gokarannath ensured the saffron party holds all eight assembly seats in Lakhimpur Kheri district. In Telangana, it put up a close fight against TRS.

BJP’s Suryabanshi Suraj retained the Dhamnagar seat that was last held by his late father Bishnu Charan Sethi by eroding BJD’s vote share further from 45% in 2019 to 43%.

“We have lost very few by-elections. I always respect the verdict of the people. MLA Bisnu Charan Sethi died recently and he was quite a popular leader. BJP held the seat for a number of years. His son was given the ticket. It was expected that they would win,” said the CM, who had campaigned for losing candidate Abanti Das. Congress’s performance in Dhamnagar nosedived to a low of 3,561 votes, relegating it to fourth place in the contest.

Telangana’s Munugode bypoll, which BJP had treated as a test case ahead of the bigger battle for the state, delivered a dud for Congress and a neck-and-neck contest between the two main contenders that saw TRS’s Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy pulling away from BJP’s Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy on the final lap to win by 10,309 votes. Congress lost its deposit for the third time in five bypolls in Telangana since 2018.

Haryana saw the third generation of ex-CM Bhajan Lal’s clan fly the BJP flag in the Adampur seat of Hisar district for the first time. Bhavya Bishnoi, the 29-year-old grandson of Bhajan Lal, defeated Congress’s Jai Prakash by 15,740 votes to make this his extended family’s 16th victory in the constituency in just over five decades. The seat belonged to Congress till Bhavya’s father Kuldeep Bishnoi switched to BJP and resigned from the assembly. BJP now has 41 MLAs in the 90-member House.

BJP’s fourth win out of six bypoll contests came at Gola Gokarannath in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri, which it retained through 26-year-old political novice Aman Giri’s victory over Samajwadi Party’s Vinay Tiwari by over 34,000 votes. Aman’s victory margin exceeded that of his late father Arvind Giri in the assembly polls earlier this year. Tiwari blamed his loss on “BJP creating an environment of terror that led to a low voter turnout (of 57.4%)”. CM Yogi Adityanath tweeted a thanks to voters and BJP workers after the result. BJP currently holds all eight assembly seats in Lakhimpur Kheri district.

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