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Cong wins two bypolls, BJP drubbed in Karnataka


New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday won two seats in assembly bypolls in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, while Karnataka’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a setback by losing the Bellary (Rural) seat to a former party minister.

West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress won the byelection to Kolkata South Lok Sabha seat while the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) won the assembly bypoll in Odisha, Janata Dal-United in Bihar and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in Jharkhand.

The BJP in Karnataka suffered a severe drubbing at the hands of party rebels, mining barons Reddy brothers, in the Bellary Rural assembly seat bypoll as their associate B. Sriramulu scored a massive win.

Sriramulu, a former BJP minister who contested as an independent after quitting the party, romped home with a huge majority of around 46,000 votes over his nearest rival B. Ramprasad of Congress, who he had beaten for the seat in the May 2008 assembly elections that brought the BJP to power for the first time in Karnataka.

BJP’s P. Gadilingappa was way behind with just 17,366 votes.

“BJP has been taught a lesson for ditching people who helped it to come to power,” Sriramulu told reporters.

With Sriramulu’s victory, Reddy brothers’ gamble in taking on the BJP, in spite of the most aggressive of them, Gali Janardhana Reddy, being in Hyderabad jail in connection with illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh, has paid off.

The Reddy brothers, Janardhana, Karunakara and Somashekara, sons of a police constable in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, made Bellary, the iron rich district 300 km north of Bangalore, their home and consider it as their pocket borough.

The three brothers are still in BJP, though the party has suspended Somashekara for campaigning for Sriramulu. Karunakara and Somashekara are assembly members while Janardhana is in legislative council.

Congresss won Ratia seat in Haryana after almost 30 years. However, it lost Adampur where Haryana Janhit Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party (HJC-BJP) candidate Renuka Bishnoi won by a margin of 22,669 votes over the party’s nominee Kulvir Singh Beniwal.

In Ratia, Congress nominee Jarnail Singh triumphed over the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate Sarfi Devi by 12,703 votes.

Bishnoi, the wife of Hisar MP and HJC president Kuldeep Bishnoi and daughter-in-law of former chief minister Bhajan Lal, polled 50,276.

The Congress win in Ratia seat has come as a morale booster to Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda who had faced internal bickering after the party lost Hisar Lok Sabha seat byelection in October this year.

The Congress had won Ratia seat only once in 1982, that too by a margin of less than 200 votes.

With its victory on Sunday, Congress strength in 90 member Haryana assembly has gone past the half way mark to 46.

In poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, Congress managed to draw level with the ruling BJP which also won a seat.

Both parties won their seats in each other’s strongholds.

BJP’s Hirday Ram defeated Congress’ Vinay Kumar in Renuka (reserved) constituency by over 3,500 votes.

Kumar is the son of the late Prem Singh, who won from this seat on Congress ticket six times.

In Nalagarh constituency of Solan district, Congress’ Lakhwinder Rana won by over 1,500 votes from his close rival Gurnam Kaur of the BJP.

Kaur is the wife of the late H.N. Saini, who represented the seat three times.

Trinamool retained its stronghold Kolkata South Lok Sabha seat with party candidate Subrata Bakshi trouncing his nearest Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) opponent by a massive margin of over 2.30 lakh votes.

State Trinamool president Bakshi won the bypoll against CPI-M’s young face Ritabrata Banerjee.

The Trianmool’s strength in the Lok Sabha has now gone up to 19, making it the second largest constituent of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) central government.

In Odisha, BJD’s Subash Gond won the bypoll to the Umerkote assembly constituency in Nabrangpur district by defeating his nearest rival Dharmu Gond of BJP by more than 20,000 votes.

In Jharkhand, JMM retained the Mandu assembly seat, winning the bypoll by a majority of over 23,000 votes.

JMM’s Jat Prakash Patel polled 52,404 votes, while Congress candidate Kumar Mahesh Singh secured 28,636.

The ruling JD-U won the Laukaha seat in Bihar by trouncing Rashtriya Janata Dal by over 22,000 votes.

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