Banana trophies and body painting mark Ajsu celebrations at Pandra Bazar in Ranchi on Friday. (Prashant Mitra & Hardeep Singh)
Ranchi, June 15: Anxiety, hope, despair and delight — the mood had many names at Pandra Bazar today.
The counting station for the Hatia by-election, where precisely 24 tally tables turned the fate of 29 candidates, including four political heavyweights, was abuzz as early as 8am.
And the very first round showed the day.
JVM hopeful Ajay Nath Shahdeo — kin of sitting Congress MLA Gopal Sharan Nath Shahdeo whose demise necessitated the bypoll — trailed Ajsu’s choice Navin Jaiswal.
Equally disappointed were BJP veteran Ramji Lal Sarda and Congress candidate Sunil Sahay, the latter’s performance betraying his MP brother’s star campaign and vintage luck loaned by a certain affluent Ranchi family.
A surprise, however, came from Independent Virendra Bhagat who notched second position after the first round.
While Jaiswal’s tally was 4,143 votes, Bhagat scored 3,447, followed by Shahdeo (1,828), Sahay (1,526) and, finally, Sarda (1,220).
The second round saw the Ajsu candidate consolidating position (4,748 votes) and the JVM nominee hoping against hope with his score dropping by 14 votes. Bhagat followed in Jaiswal’s footsteps bagging 3,898, but tension refused to let Sarda (1,192) and Sahay (1,597) alone.
The numbers game did not change much in the third round too and Jaiswal maintained lead, albeit with 3,994 votes, followed by Shahdeo (2,931) and Bhagat (2,016). Sahay and Sarda ended up with 1,536 and 1,626 votes.
A heart-broken Sahay, who had shown great enthusiasm and reached the counting centre dot on time, left almost unnoticed around 9.30am, never to come back again.
Independent candidate Bhagat did not show up at the counting station though he performed well.
Sarda, however, held on to hope and stayed put at Pandra, with a bunch of loyal BJP supporters for company. But, by noon, he figured the reality and left silently.
“I had never expected such a bad performance. The party will review what went wrong,” Sarda told newsmen.
JVM nominee Shahdeo was inside the counting hall till 12.40pm. Once he was convinced that his figures would not improve, he decided to leave. “Navin (Jaiswal) and myself were sitting side by side during the counting process. He has a lead of several votes. I accept my defeat humbly,” Shahdeo said.
As the mood in rival camps oscillated between hope and despair, Ajsu supporters launched a cracker of a celebration. With drums, garland and gulal, they went bananas — Jaiswal’s bypoll symbol — for their chosen leader by noon.
As the clock struck 3pm, Jaiswal was a clear winner. A crowd of more than 1,500 supporters waited eagerly outside the counting station to give him a hero’s welcome.
They held bananas as trophies, had the fruit body painted and wore them as garlands. Jaiswal received a prompt shoulder prop during the brief victory lap.
“I thank the people of Hatia for voting for me. I will work hard to fulfil their expectations,” a jubilant Jaiswal told newsmen.
Back in the state capital, wife Reena Jaiswal distributed sweets among friends and family members to mark his success.