Uttarakhand Chief Minister and Congress candidate Vijay Bahuguna emerged winner in the Sitarganj Assembly seat bypoll, defeating his nearest rival, the former Speaker, Prakash Pant, of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by a record 39,954 votes on Wednesday.

The BJP, while acknowledging defeat, said its candidate had been trounced not by the people but money power.

The win means a lot besides retaining the top job. “The work of the electorate in showing immense trust in the Congress chief, Sonia Gandhi, and me is over. It is now time for me to prove that development will be the main stay of my rule and efforts would be made to ensure direct justice to the poorest of the poor,” Mr. Bahuguna told The Hindu over telephone.

On the BJP’s reaction, Mr. Bahuguna said the people voted for development, and going by the wave in favour of the Congress, he was surprised that Mr. Pant managed to secure over 13,000 votes.

“All of us, including the BJP should re-dedicate ourselves to the task of nation building,” Mr. Bahuguna said.

The bypoll was necessitated when the sitting BJP MLA, Kiran Mandal, vacated the seat in favour of Mr. Bahuguna after he fulfilled many of his demands, including land rights to the East Bengal settlers.

The tally of the Congress has gone up to 33 in the House of 70.