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BJP retains Purnea

Shoumojit Banerjee

PATNA: The ruling National Democratic Alliance on Wednesday won the Purnea by-election, with the Bharatiya Janata Party's Kiran Keshri defeating Ramcharitra Yadav of the Congress by 23,665 votes.

The by-election was necessitated by the death of the BJP's Raj Kishore Keshri. He was murdered in his home in January by Rupam Pathak, a schoolteacher, who had accused him of repeated sexual abuse and harassment.

The BJP had gone all out to drum up sympathy for Ms. Kiran Keshri, flooding local newspapers with advertisements, highlighting her “dire” situation. Some election watchers attribute her victory to a “sympathy wave.” She polled 53,732 votes against the Lok Jan Shakti Party-backed Mr. Yadav, who secured 30,067 votes. The BJP has, in fact, polled 8,066 more votes than what it secured in the 2010 elections. “This shows we have retained the confidence of Muslim voters,” Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.

The other star candidate, Amit Sarkar of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), finished third, polling 17,113 votes. The Australia-returned Sarkar, who was supported by the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal, is the son of the slain CPI(M) MLA, Ajit Sarkar.

Of the four other contestants, all of whom forfeited their deposits, Independents Satish Sah and Krishna Kumar Jha got 1,855 and 508 votes, Islamuddin of the CPI (ML) 1,554 and Om Prakash Bhagat of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 898.

The by-election also exposed the rift in the RJD-LJP combine, as the two allies backed the opposing candidates. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan's rumoured overtures to the Congress was said to be the chief cause of a probable schism.This charge was, however, denied by top leaders of both parties, including Mr. Paswan.

BJP wrests Jabera

from Congress

Mahim Pratap Singh reports from Bhopal:

The ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh completed a hat-trick of by-election victories in less than a year, winning the Jabera Assembly seat by a comfortable margin on Wednesday.

Its Dashrath Singh Lodhi defeated Tanya Solomon of the Congress by 11,738 votes in the election necessitated by the death of her father Ratnesh Solomon. The sympathy factor, on which the Congress was banking, apparently did not work for Dr. Tanya, while the caste factor seems to have favoured Mr. Lodhi, as Jabera has a sizable number of Lodhis. This is the third consecutive by-election victory for the BJP this year and third consecutive defeat for the Congress.

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