The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Friday retained the Kej Assembly seat, with its nominee Prithviraj Sathe defeating Sangeeta Thombre of BJP in the bypoll.

Polling was held in the Kej scheduled caste (SC) reserved Assembly constituency in Beed district on June 12, after the death of sitting NCP MLA and former minister Vimal Mundada.

Mr. Sathe trounced Ms. Thombre by around 8,000 votes.

Ms. Mundada’s son Akshay and husband Nandkishore Mundada were ruled out of the poll fray as they belonged to the Marwari community. The norms stipulate that the candidate be from the SC community by birth.

That led to the selection of Mr. Sathe as the party’s candidate.

The Kej Assembly by-election was being seen as a battle of prestige between NCP’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and BJP leader and MP from Beed, Gopinath Munde.

Over half a dozen NCP ministers actively campaigned for the bypoll, and Mr. Pawar also addressed a public rally in the constituency.

Mr. Munde and his daughter Pankaja Munde-Palve campaigned for the party, along with senior state BJP leaders.

Friday’s result is a relief to Mr. Pawar, after the setback in Khadakwasla Assembly bypoll in Pune district last year.

BJP had won the Khadakwasla Assembly bypoll in Pune district, with its candidate Bhimrao Tapkir defeating NCP’s Harshada Wanjale, the widow of MNS legislator Ramesh Wanjale, whose death had necessitated the bypoll.