Ruling BJD retains Pipili Assembly seat in Odisha bypoll

Its candidate secures 53.6% of the votes polled against BJP’s 42.04%; Congress nominee loses deposit

Ruling Biju Janata Dal’s Rudra Pratap Maharathy won the Pipili by-election, defeating BJP’s Ashrit Pattnayak by 20,916 votes in a straight fight.

While Mr. Maharathy polled 96,972 votes, his nearest rival Mr. Pattnayak could bag 76,056 votes.

The bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJD MLA Pradip Moharathy due to COVID-19 in October 2020. The BJD fielded his son in the seat which Pradip Maharathy had won seven times.

The BJD candidate secured 53.6% of the votes polled leaving behind the BJP candidate at 42.04%. The constituency recorded the highest ever voter turnout of 78.24%.

Congress candidate Bishwokeshan Harichandan Mohapatra fared miserably by managing to poll 4,261 (2.36%) votes and losing the deposit. The other seven candidates got 1% of the votes polled.

The outcome will have no bearing on the BJD government as it enjoys a massive strength of 113 in the 147-member Assembly.

The success is certainly a morale boosting one at a time when political parties are getting ready to fight the crucial panchayat and civic body polls, which are likely to take place early next year.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is hailed as the key factor in the success, did not campaign for Mr. Maharathy. On the other hand, senior BJP Minister and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan held rallies for his party candidate.

“I thank the people of Pipili for their huge support to Mr. Maharathy. I also congratulate all workers and leaders of the BJD,” said Mr. Patnaik.

The BJD workers had started celebrations by waving party flags even as the counting was under way. Many Congress workers staged a demonstration in front of the party office here demanding the resignation of Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik.

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