C'garh: Cong wins bypoll to Marwahi seat, once Jogi bastion

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(Eds: adds reactions) Raipur, Nov 10 (PTI) The ruling Congress won the Marwahi Assembly bypoll in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, an election official said.

Bypoll was necessitated for this seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribes (ST), by the death of its MLA and Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) founder Ajit Jogi on May 29.

Congress candidate Dr K K Dhruw won the bypoll to the constituency, located in Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi (GPM) district, by 38,197 votes.

He defeated the BJP's Dr Gambheer Singh. Dhruw polled 83,561 votes while Singh secured 45,364 votes, the official said.

Voting had been held on November 3 and the turnout was 77.89 per cent.

It was for the first time since Ajit Jogi won the Marwahi seat in 2001 that no member of his family was in the fray, as the election authority rejected the nomination papers of his son, JCC (J) president Amit Jogi, and Amit's wife Richa Jogi for invalid caste certificates.

With this victory, the tally of the Congress in the 90-member assembly has gone up to 70.

The BJP has suffered a third consecutive defeat in assembly bypolls held after the 2018 assembly elections.

Last year, the Congress had won bypolls in Dantewada and Chitrakot seats.

The strength of the BJP in the state assembly is 14 while JCC(J) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have four and two MLAs, respectively.

In the 2018 Assembly polls, Ajit Jogi, a former chief minister, had polled 74,041 votes in Marwahi, beating the BJP's Archana Porte by 46,462 votes, with the Congress coming in third.

Soon after the result was declared, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel tweeted, 'Marwahi bypoll was not merely an election to elect an MLA, rather it was a test for people to give a reply democratically against the deceit they suffered for the last 18 years. I am glad the people of Marwahi have passed this test with a thumping majority.' The Marwahi seat had been a bastion of the Jogi family since the formation of the state in 2000, with Ajit Jogi winning four times and his son Amit once.

Responding to Baghel's remark, Amit Jogi alleged that the Congress won the bypoll through deceit and by 'blatantly misusing government machinery'.

Everyone knew how four JCC (J) candidates, including himself and his wife, were 'fraudulently ousted' from the bypoll through rejection of nomination papers, he claimed.

Amit Jogi also said that his decision to support the BJP (after his and his wife's nomination papers were rejected) in this poll was a 'moral decision and not a political one because the CM was continuously insulting Ajit Jogi'.

State BJP chief Vishnu Sai said his party accepted the mandate, adding that 'dedication and hard work of BJP workers compelled the state Congress to deploy its CM, ministers and complete government machinery for a single bypoll'. PTI TKP BNM KRK KRK