BJP retains Pithoragarh seat in U'khand

Dehradun, Nov 28 (PTI) BJP's Chandra Pant on Thursday beat her Congress rival Anju Lunthi by over 3,000 votes to win the Pithorogarh Assembly bypoll and retain the seat for the party.

The bypoll was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MLA Prakash Pant in June, following which the party fielded his wife Chandra Pant.

Chandra Pant polled 26,086 votes against Lunthi's 22,819, defeating her by a margin of 3,267 votes, Pithorogarh District Magistrate cum returning officer V K Jogdande said.

Voting was held on November 25, with over 47 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the victory was expected.

'The seat was ours and we are happy to retain it. The margin is big. We thank people of the constituency for reposing their faith in us once again,' he said.

Reacting to the win, an emotional Chandra Pant said, 'It is the result of developmental works done by my late husband in the constituency, besides the relentless hard work of party workers.' 'I would try to meet the expectations of the voters who showered their love and affection on me,' she added.

Chandra Pant's candidature from Pithorogarh in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand was seen by political experts here as the BJP's bid to garner sympathy votes in the wake of the sitting MLA's untimely demise.

Prakash Pant was a prominent leader in Uttarakhand and had held the key Parliamentary Affairs and Finance portfolios in Trivendra Singh Rawat's cabinet.

Congress nominee Lunthi, who lost to Chandra, did not show any signs of disappointment, saying it was a learning experience for her.

'I have learnt a lot in this election as it was my first chance. The support of the voters and party workers which I got this time will be my source of inspiration in coming elections,' she said.

The BJP had won the seat in the 2017 Assembly polls by 2,684 votes, with Prakash Pant defeating Congress's Mayukh Mahar.

Mahar decided not to contest this time, after which the Congress fielded Lunthi from the seat. Both parties had thrown in all their might into the campaigning to shore up their chances.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Nainital MP and state BJP president Ajay Bhatt and Almora MP Ajay Tamta had campaigned for Chandra, while former chief minister Harish Rawat, Pradesh Congress president Pritam Singh and a host of other leaders campaigned for Lunthi. PTI ALM IJT