(Eds: Combining bypolls in TN, Arunachal, WB, UP) New Delhi, Dec 24 (PTI) The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu today suffered a major setback with rival faction candidate T T V Dhinakaran winning the prestigious RK Nagar Assembly bypoll, bettering J Jayalalithaa’s margin, while the BJP wrested two seats from the Congress in Arunachal Pradesh and retained one in UP.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC), in power in West Bengal, unseated the Congress in Sabang Assembly constituency defeating its nearest rival, the CPI(M), by over 64,000 votes.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP retained the Sikandra Assembly seat in a bypoll in Kanpur Dehat district, a place which gained notoriety after the 1981 Behmai massacre of 21 upper caste Rajputs allegedly by a gang led by bandit Phoolan Devi.
Dhinakaran, the nephew of jailed leader V K Sasikala, defeated his nearest rival E Madhusudhanan of the AIADMK by 40,707 votes, election officials said. Polling for the seat was held on December 21.
The bypoll in the Assembly constituency was necessitated following the death of J Jayalalithaa in December last. The late Tamil Nadu chief minister was elected from the RK Nagar seat in north Chennai.
Dhinakaran surpassed the record of Jayalalithaa, who had won by a margin of 39,545 votes in the 2016 Assembly polls.
While he polled 89,013 votes, Madhusudhanan secured 48,306.
DMK’s N Maruthu Ganesh came a distant third with 24,651 and lost his deposit, as also 57 others, including the BJP nominee.
He contested as an independent on the pressure cooker symbol after the Election Commission allotted the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the factions led by K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.
The two factions had merged in August this year after deposing Dhinakaran and Sasikala, who is serving a four-year jail term in a Bengaluru prison in a corruption case.
In Arunachal Pradesh, where the BJP is in power, the party wrested the Pakke-Kessang and Likabali Assembly seats from the Congress.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed BJP victories in UP and Arunachal Pradesh and said his party is committed to serving the country’s villages.
He also expressed happiness over the party’s improved performance in the West Bengal by-election.
The 60-member Arunachal Assembly now has 49 MLAs from the saffron party, nine from the Peoples’ Party of Arunachal (PPA), one from Congress and one Independent.
B R Waghe of the BJP won the Pakke-Kessang seat by 475 votes, defeating his lone rival and former deputy chief minister, Kameng Dolo of the Congress, Chief Electoral Officer D J Bhattacharjee said.
In the Likabali, BJP’s Kardo Nyigyor won by just 305 votes, defeating his nearest rival, Gumke Riba of the PPA in a multi-cornered contest.
The Likabali seat had fallen vacant after state minister Jomde Kena passed away on September 4. The bypoll in Pakke- Kessang was held after the Gauhati High Court declared the election of Dolo from the constituency polls null and void.
In West Bengal’s Sabang seat, while TMC candidate Gita Rani Bhunia secured 1,06,179 votes, her closest rival, Rita Mandal of the CPI(M), bagged 41,987 votes.
Antara Bhattacharya of the BJP polled 37,476 votes and the Congress’ Chiranjib Bhowmick got 18,060 votes, West Midnapore District Magistrate (DM) Jagdish Prasad Meena said.
The bypoll came in the wake of former Congress MLA Manas Bhunia defecting to the TMC earlier this year. He is a Rajya Sabha member.
The biggest jolt was to the Congress, which not only lost one of its citadels to the TMC, but also finished a distant fourth in the bypoll. Sabang has been a Congress stronghold since 1957.
The results came as a booster for the TMC and the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, ahead of the panchayat polls and two by-elections — in Noapara Assembly constituency and Uluberia Lok Sabha seat — due early next year. The bypoll was necessitated after former Congress MLA.
According to the Uttar Pradesh chief electoral officer’s office, BJP’s Ajit Singh Pal secured 73,284 votes while his nearest rival, Seema Sachan of the Samajwadi Party, bagged 61,423 votes. Prabhakar Pandey of the Congress secured 19,084 votes.
The Sikandra bypoll was held following the death of sitting BJP MLA, Mathura Prasad Pal, on July 22.
While the SP and the Congress had allied for the state Assembly polls, held earlier this year, they had parted ways in the bypoll.
Phoolan Devi, who had surrendered before the police in 1983, had successfully contested the 1996 Lok Sabha election on an SP ticket and became an MP from Mirzapur. The bandit- turned-politician was shot dead by masked gunmen outside her Delhi residence on July 25, 2001.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.