Ruling Biju Janata Dal wrests Bijepur Assembly constituency from Congress in by-poll with its candidate Rita Sahu defeating her nearest rival Ashok Panigrahi of BJP

Bhubaneswar/Bargarh: Riding high on the brand image of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate Rita Sahu registered a thumping victory in the Bijepur assembly by-election Wednesday.
The ruling BJD won the by-election, considered as a semi-final before the Parliament and Assembly elections next year, by a massive margin of 41,933 votes.
Sahu secured 1,02,871 votes and defeated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Ashok Panigrahi who secured only 60,938 votes.
Principal opposition Congress which had retained the Bijepur seat for three consecutive terms – 2004, 2009 and 2014 – cut a sorry figure as its candidate Pranaya Sahu was pushed to a distant third with 10,274 votes. Interestingly, 1,684 votes went to NOTA.
The BJD won a staggering 56 per cent of polled votes, while BJP bagged 33.53 per cent and Congress a mere 5.65 per cent, said returning officer Tapiram Majhi.
The Bijepur result assumes significance for all major parties, especially BJD, BJP and Congress as it is seen as a precursor for the 2019 general elections. The results yet again proved that the popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik remain intact despite an aggressive campaign by BJP, which failed to capitalise on the advantage that it gained from panchayat polls. The BJP had swept the Zilla Parishad polls in Bargarh district in 2017.
On the other hand, Congress, which won the Bijepur assembly seat for the last three times, was completely decimated Wednesday. Following the massive victory, BJD leaders and workers celebrated at their party headquarters here in the capital city. The party workers were seen dancing and bursting firecrackers following Rita’s victory.
BJD president and Chief Minister Patnaik said a victory by more than 40,000 votes will have a significant impact on future elections. “I am humbled by love and trust of the people of Bijepur for giving BJD a massive victory. BJD lives in the hearts of the people of Orissa. Our people are peace loving and have rejected the politics of hatred and violence,” Patnaik said.
He also thanked each and every BJD worker who had worked hard for this. “We will continue our efforts to build a prosperous and empowered Orissa,” he said.
BJP legislature party leader KV Singdeo conceded defeat. “We need to do introspection over the defeat in the Bijepur by-poll and move forward,” said Singhdeo. The by-election was held February 24 in which around 82 per cent of the voters had exercised their franchise. It was necessitated following the death of Congress MLA Subal Sahu in August 2017.
Sahu’s widow Rita Sahu contested the by-election as BJD candidate and won. Panigrahi had won the Bijepur seat in 2000. Though as many as 13 candidates were in the fray for the seat, the high voltage fight was primarily seen as a triangular contest between BJD, BJP and Congress.
Orissa PCC prez resigns

Bhubaneswar: Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan Wednesday resigned from his post, owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle in Bijepur by-election.
AICC Orissa in-charge BK Hariprasad confirmed the news to media, saying the OPCC president has offered to step down and he had also sent his resignation to party president Rahul Gandhi. Harichandan, however, couldn’t be reached for comments.
Harichandan faced opposition from party circles following his party’s dismal show in Bijepur by-poll. The performance of Congress was disastrous as it had not only lost grip over the constituency where it had won consecutively for the last three terms but was also decimated to third position Wednesday.
Harichandan had also been blamed for not controlling infighting among Congress leaders in the state that led to the party’s drubbing in 2017 panchayat


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