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Assembly bypoll: Congress retains Mandar seat

Bandhu Tirkey’s daughter Shilpi Neha Tirkey emerges winner
Congress candidate Shilpi Neha Tirkey with her father Bandhu Tirkey in Ranchi on Sunday.
Congress candidate Shilpi Neha Tirkey with her father Bandhu Tirkey in Ranchi on Sunday.
Manob Chowdhary

Achintya Ganguly   |   Ranchi   |   Published 27.06.22, 12:59 AM

The Congress bagged the Mandar Assembly seat, reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, with its debutant young candidate Shilpi Neha Tirkey defeating former BJP MLA Gangotri Kujur by a comfortable margin of over 23,000 votes.

With this, the ruling JMM-Congress-RJD combine successfully retained all the four Assembly seats — Dumka, Bermo, Madhupur and Mandar — where bypolls were conducted since the last Assembly election in 2019.

The Mandar bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA Bandhu Tirkey lost the seat following his conviction in a disproportionate asset case.

While the Congress fielded Bandhu’s daughter Shilpi, the BJP replaced its earlier candidate Dev Kumar Dhan with former MLA Gangotri Kujur.

Denied the party ticket, Dhan entered into the fray as an Independent candidate who was supported by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) that did not field any candidate of its own this time.

After 21 rounds of counting of votes that concluded in Ranchi on Sunday afternoon, Shilpi bagged 95,062 votes, 23,517 more than Kujur’s 71,545 votes.

Shilpi got only 50 votes more than Kujur after the first round but the result reversed after the second round of counting when Kujur went ahead by 112 votes. However, Shilpi again took the lead after the third round and never looked back.

After the end of the seventh round, Shilpi had bagged 29,574 votes, 4,957 more than her BJP rival and increased the gap further to 11,050 votes after the end of 14th round and to 16,543 after 17th round.

Dhan, who finished third by bagging 22,395 votes, proved political observers who had guessed he could play spoilsport for both the Congress and the BJP candidates wrong.

Observers thought Dhan, being a former BJP leader, would be able to make a dent in the party’s vote bank, putting the official candidate Kujur into trouble.

Some felt that anti-BJP Muslim votes that could otherwise go to the Congress candidate would be diverted to Dhan who was supported by the AIMIM.

But he bagged even less than 24,000 votes that the AIMIM candidate had bagged in 2019.

Bandhu Tirkey is a popular tribal in the area and has a significant support base in the constituency that helped her daughter in the bypoll.

Chief minister Hemant Soren had also addressed a few election meetings in favour of Shilpi who won the bypoll by a respectable margin despite a vigorous BJP campaign led by former chief ministers Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda and Raghubar Das and party’s state unit president Deepak Prakash.

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