Abhijeet puts up lacklustre performance; BJP scores convincing victory

Two Lok Sabha constituencies delivered a sharp, unpleasant message to the Congress, when the results of the by-elections were announced on Saturday.

While Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son was defeated in Tehri, President Pranab Mukherjee’s son scraped through in West Bengal’s Jangipur. The two seats were held by the fathers.

For the beleaguered ruling party, which has already lost one ally — the 19 MP-strong Trinamool Congress — the outcome means that its strength in the Lok Sabha has slipped from 207 to 206, and that of the principal Opposition party, BJP, has risen from 114 to 115.

In Tehri, Mr. Vijay Bahuguna’s son and Congress candidate Saket Bahuguna lost to the BJP’s Mala Raj Laxmi Shah, daughter-in-law of the erstwhile raja of Tehri, Manvendra Shah, who had represented the seat for a record eight times. In a field of 14 candidates, Ms. Shah defeated Mr. Bahuguna by a convincing margin of 22,431 votes.

In Jangipur, despite the fact that the Trinamool did not field a candidate, Mr. Abhijeet Mukherjee was able to defeat his CPI(M) rival Muzaffar Hussain by just 2,536 votes. Mr. Abhijeet Mukherjee polled 3,32,919 votes; Mr. Hussain 3,30,383. Compare these figures with Mr. Mukherjee senior’s tally: in 2009, he won the seat by over 1.28 lakh votes in alliance with the Trinamool Congress.

Even the BJP put up an impressive performance in Jangipur this time, with its candidate Sudhangshu Biswas securing 85,867 votes, taking the party’s vote share in the constituency to almost 10 per cent. Two independent candidates Raisuddin and Tahedul Islam polled 41,620 and 24,691 votes. Indeed, Congress MLA Mohammad Sohrab, party sources said, might have put up a better show than Mr. Mukherjee junior in this constituency, where the minority vote is over 70 per cent.

In Tehri, the BJP did not just bank on the traditional clout of the royals — it also raised the burning issues of corruption and price rise to defeat the Congress, ensuring the ruling party’s promise to bring big-time investment to Tehri fell flat. Tehri fell vacant after Mr. Vijay Bahuguna resigned after he won the Sitarganj Assembly constituency.