Bypolls: Decoding the big wins

Hardnews Bureau

As the results of by-polls in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Goa are announced, here is a look at what the victories mean

Results of the by-elections held in the last week in Nandyal constituency of Andhra Pradesh, Panaji and Valpoi constituency of Goa, and Delhi's Bawana assembly constituency announced yesterday have been significant for various reasons. While the AAP’s victory in Delhi provided the party with the much-needed boost, the BJP’s victory in Goa is being read as a sign of what may follow in the next Assembly elections and the bypoll in Andhra Pradesh’s Nandyal constituency was a closely contested fight between the ruling TDP and the Opposition.

AAP candidate Ram Chander won the Bawana by-election in Delhi by a huge margin of 24,052 votes. In Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam Party candidate Bhuma Brahmananda Reddy secured a victory in the Nandyal by-polls with 27,456 votes. Goa Chief Minister and BJP leader Manohar Parrikar has won a sixth term as MLA after scoring a victory in the by-poll to Panaji, defeating Congress’s Girish Chodankar by a margin of 4,803 votes. Vishwajit Rane, on the other hand, won the Valpoi seat by a huge margin of over 10,000 votes, securing the seat for the BJP.

The earlier rounds of counting had witnessed the AAP being relegated to the third position in the national capital. The BJP fielded former AAP legislator Ved Prakash, who had switched over to the party during the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls, the ruling AAP’s candidate was a veteran party worker and social activist, Ram Chandra, and from Congress, three-time former MLA Surender Kumar contested the election. The bypoll was watched most keenly as the ruling had not seen an electoral victory after the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections. A win for AAP marks the resurgence of the party after its poor show in the Punjab and Goa assembly polls and MCD elections. One of the 12 reserved constituencies, Bawana has one of the largest concentration of voters—2.94 lakh—and is dotted with 26 villages, colonies, and slums. The voting to the by-election had recorded 45 percent voter turnout on August 23 and used VVPAT machines. The usage of tallying machine in the election assumes significance because after losing the Assembly elections in Goa and Punjab, the AAP had alleged that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had been tampered with. They had urged the Election Commission to use VVPAT machines for tallying votes.

The by-polls in Nandyal constituency in Andhra Pradesh was a battle of dignity between the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and main opposition YSR Congress Party, both taking the fight to the next level. TDP candidate Bhuma Brahmananda Reddy won comfortably from the Nandyal Assembly constituency, defeating YSRCP candidate Silpa Chandra Mohan Reddy with a margin of over 27,456 votes. Just before the by-poll date was announced, Mohan Reddy quit the TCP on June 13 to join YSRCP. This by-poll was necessary after the death of sitting MLA Bhuma Nagi Reddy who had won the seat by a margin of 3,600 votes as YSRC candidate in 2014 but switched over to the TDP in February 2016.

Four-time Chief Minister of Goa and five-time Panaji MLA Manohar Parrikar won from Panaji, while his health minister Vishwajit Rane, who joined the BJP after quitting the Congress, retained the Valpoi constituency in the Assembly by-polls. In the previous five elections, the Congress had struggled to go over even 5,000 votes. The election was necessary because within six months of becoming the Chief Minister, sitting MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar had vacated the seat for Parrikar. A defeat for Parrikar in this election could have raised trouble for the alliance administration.