Baroda bypoll: Cong retains seat, BJP's Yogeshwar Dutt loses

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Chandigarh, Nov 10 (PTI) The opposition Congress on Tuesday retained the Baroda assembly seat after its candidate Indu Raj Narwal defeated BJP nominee and Olympian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt by a margin of 10,566 votes.

This is the second time that Dutt has lost from the constituency.

In the 2019 assembly poll, he had lost by about 4,800 votes to Congress candidate Krishan Hooda.

The Baroda bypoll was necessitated following the death of Hooda in April. He had won the constituency thrice in 2009, 2014 and 2019. According to officials, Narwal polled 60,636 votes while Dutt got 50,070 votes.

Indian National Lok Dal nominee Joginder Singh Malik polled 5,003 votes while Loktantra Suarkasha Party candidate Raj Kumar Saini got 5,601 votes.

As many as 468 voters opted for NOTA (none of the above) option in the bypoll, according to the Election Commission data.

The Congress secured a vote share of 49.28 per cent in the bypoll held on November 3 followed by the ruling BJP at 40.70 per cent and INLD at 4.07 per cent, the data showed.

As counting of votes began at 8 am, Narwal took the lead over his nearest rival Dutt and out of 20 rounds of counting, he remained ahead in 15, thus maintaining a solid overall lead.

Dutt accepted the verdict of the people and thanked them for their support. He also congratulated Narwal for the win.

“I accept the verdict of Baroda constituency,” he said in a tweet. Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja said, with their decision, the people of Baroda have given a “befitting reply” to “anti-farmers and anti-labour forces”.

“The victory of Indu Raj Narwal is a win for farmers and labourers. I assure residents of Baroda that the Congress will live up to their expectations,” tweeted Selja. “We have been saying from day one that it will be a one-sided contest in favour of the Congress and you are seeing it now,” said Selja.

People trust the Congress party and they do not believe whatever the BJP says, she told reporters.

“They (BJP) talked about development but nothing was done there (Baroda). What development did the BJP government carry out in the last six years,” she asked. Haryana BJP chief O P Dhankar reacting to Dutt's loss said, “Traditionally, it (Baroda) has been a Congress seat and Congress candidates have been winning from here.” However, the number of BJP votes has increased, he said, adding that he was saddened by Dutt' defeat.

Asked whether the defeat was due to the anger of the farmers over the central farm laws, Dhankar said, 'Had there been an impact, then our number of votes would have decreased. Everybody knows it was the Congress party's lie. These laws are in favour of farmers.' The Baroda bypoll was a direct contest between the BJP and Congress. The poll outcome of Baroda bypoll has come as a big setback for the BJP-JJP alliance government in the state which has been facing the ire of farmers over the three central farm laws.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and other senior leaders had aggressively canvassed for Dutt. To counter opposition party's criticism of the farm laws, Khattar had even announced that he would quit politics if the minimum support price (MSP) system was dismantled while accusing the Congress of 'misleading' farmers over this issue.

The BJP was looking to wrest this seat from the Congress as the saffron party has never won from here.

The bypoll was also a battle of prestige for former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as this Jat-dominated constituency lies adjacent to his own Garhi-Sampla Kiloi seat in Rohtak and is considered his stronghold. The victory for the Congress nominee will help Hooda emerge as an undisputed leader in the state unit of the party. Two-time chief minister Hooda along with his son Deepender Hooda had campaigned for Narwal and had launched a blistering attack on the Khattar-led dispensation over several issues including farm laws. The INLD, for which the bypoll was equally important, remained at the fourth spot. Baroda was a reserved seat till 2005 and a pocket borough of the INLD before the Congress won it for three consecutive terms starting in 2009.

The BJP had won 40 of the 90 assembly seats in 2019 and later formed the government with JJP's support, which had won 10 seats. The poll outcome will have no bearing on the number of 90-member Haryana Assembly. The BJP's tally will remain at 40 while the Congress party number will remain unchanged at 31 as the seat was held by Hooda. The INLD has one seat. PTI CHS VSD . RHL