BJP wins Palghar bypoll, trouncing ally Shiv Sena

BJP President Amit Shah and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. PTI file photo

BJP's Rajendra Gavit today won the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll in Maharashtra, trouncing Shrinivas Wanaga of the Shiv Sena by 29,574 votes. The result was declared after completion of counting of votes in 33 rounds, a state election official said.

Gavit polled 2,72,780 votes against 2,43,206 polled by Wanaga.

Baliram Jadhav of Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA) stood third with 2,22,837 votes, while Kiran Gahla of the CPM secured 71,887 votes. Damodar Shingda of the Congress finished a distant fifth with 47,713 votes.

The bypoll was necessitated after the death of BJP MP Chintaman Wanaga and saw a bitter face-off between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, the sparring ruling allies in the state.

The Shiv Sena fielded Shrinivas Wanaga, late Chintaman Wanaga's son, while the BJP put up Gavit, a former Congress minister, as its candidate.

The BJP made the Palghar bypoll a matter of prestige, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis campaigning extensively. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Union minister Smriti Irani also campaigned for the BJP nominee.

During the poll campaign, the BJP dubbed the Uddhav Thackeray-led party as a "backstabber".

In the run-up to the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll, the Sena chief had released an audio clip of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, purportedly asking the BJP workers to use all possible means to win the election.

Fadnavis had responded by releasing a 14-minute audio clip, claiming it was the complete version of the clip released by Sena. "The Sena can see it is losing and has thus stooped to such levels," he had claimed.

Political analysts say the BJP benefited from the division of votes between the Sena and the BVA as both parties polled over two lakh votes each.

NCP leader Nawab Malik said the Congress should have extended support to BVA candidate Jadhav as he had contested against Chintaman Wanaga in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and was then supported by the Congress. 

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