The ruling Congress and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party won one seat each in the by-elections at the Assembly constituencies of Todabhim and Salumber in Rajasthan, the results of which were declared on Tuesday.
The BJP wrested the Todabhim seat from an Independent, while Congress retained the Salumber seat. Both the seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The November 7 by-polls were necessitated after the incumbents resigned on being elected to the Lok Sabha.
BJP’s Ramesh Chand Meena was declared elected from Todabhim, defeating his nearest Congress rival Shivdayal Meena by a margin of 8,277 votes. Three Congress rebels – Prithvi Singh, Kamla Meena and Rajendra Singh – together took away over 24,000 votes.
The Congress party here put the blame on rebels for the defeat at Todabhim, saying they were strong contenders for ticket. The party’s official candidate polled 32,753 votes, while the BJP nominee got 41,030 votes.
Kirorilal Meena, the stalwart of the Meena community – who kept away from the election campaign this time – had won from Todabhim in the 2008 Assembly elections, giving a drubbing to both the Congress and BJP candidates who lost their deposits.
Mr. Meena, since elected to the Lok Sabha from Dausa, and his wife Golma Devi, who is a Minister of State in the Ashok Gehlot Government, wield a significant influence in the Todabhim region. Mr. Meena had refrained from extending his open support to any candidate in the by-poll.
Basanti Meena of Congress, who bagged the Salumber seat, defeated Amritlal Meena of BJP by a margin of 3,098 votes. Her husband, Raghuveer Meena, had won from Salumber in 2008, but he vacated the seat on being elected to the Lok Sabha from Udaipur earlier this year.
Congress has retained the Salumber seat with Ms. Basanti Meena polling 55,651 votes, while BJP nominee Mr. Amritlal Meena got 52,553 votes. Three other candidates were independent, while one fought on behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist Liberation).
With the by-election spoils divided equally between the Congress and BJP, the suspense over the results as a yardstick for measuring the ruling party’s popularity has ended. Political observers here feel that the voters gave precedence to the local issues while exercising their franchise.