| Nitish Kumar and (above) Ram Vilas Paswan. Telegraph pictures
Patna, Feb. 28: The JD(U) candidate, Manju Devi, was today declared winner in the Kalyanpur Assembly seat bypoll but the ruling party’s vote share slipped a bit.
Manju trounced her nearest LJP rival, Rekha Paswan, by 16,432 votes. The Congress’s Anita Ram finished third, bagging 8,221 votes.
The JD(U) candidate’s victory margin in the context of the by-election in the solitary Assembly seat in Samastipur district looks quite comfortable. But a close scrutiny of the result of 2013 and 2010 reveals a sharp rise in the vote share of the RJD-supported LJP candidate. The BJP-supported JD(U) nominee’s votes, on the other hand, declined marginally.
Manju polled 59,325 votes against 42,893 polled by her LJP rival. The LJP’s Bishwanath Paswan had bagged 31,927 votes against 62,124 polled by the JD (U)’s Ramseveak Hajari in 2010. Hajari’s death prompted the by-election in the Kalyanpur seat.
The total votes polled on February 24 by-election was 1,28,861 against 1,28,961 in 2010, suggesting that almost equal number of voters participated in both the polls.
Without going into the statistics, chief minister Nitish Kumar thanked the Kalyanpur voters and Manju for his party’s win.
He described it as the “victory of the people”. “People stayed unaffected by the false propaganda by the Opposition for the past eight or nine months. The people of the state wanted development while the Opposition wished to drive them back in the cauldron of tension and lawlessness. The Kalyanpur results have proved that people were no longer willing to return to days of tension,” Nitish said.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi joined Nitish in thanking the Kalyanpur voters.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Abdul Bari Siddiqui, described the Kalyanpur result as an “eye-opener” for the chief minister. “The result has clearly shown that the ruling establishment’s graph is falling fast while the RJD-LJP combination is attracting people getting disenchanted with the NDA rule in the state. The LJP stands defeated, but the results have boosted our morale in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections,” Siddiqui said.
Independent observers said the widespread resentment that Nitish faced during his Adhikar Yatras last August-September in various parts of north Bihar, including Begusarai, Khagaria, Darbhanga and Samastipur, has found its “reflection” in the Kalyanpur result. “The increase of over 11,000 votes in the share of the LJP nominee is a clear testimony to the fact that a major chunk of Kalyanpur voters, disenchanted with the ruling dispensation, switched over to the LJP,” a political observer said.
Local factors and difference in the stature of the candidate too could have caused the difference between the results of the 2010 Assembly elections and the February 2013 by-election.
“Socialist Ramsevak Hajari had far bigger stature than Manju Devi, a homemaker. Her victory is quite stupendous if you analyse it from the perspective of her stature vis-à-vis Hajari,” said a senior JD(U) leader.