(Eds: Adding quotes) Pune, May 2 (PTI) In a setback to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in Maharashtra, BJP candidate Samadhan Autade on Sunday won the by-election to Pandharpur-Mangalvedha Assembly seat in Solapur district by defeating his nearest NCP rival by a margin of over 3,700 votes, officials said.
Autade defeated MVA candidate Bhagirath Bhalke, son of late NCP MLA Bharat Bhalke.
NCP shares power with Shiv Sena and Congress in the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government.
The NCP and opposition BJP were in a direct fight in this April 17 bypoll, which was necessitated following the death of Bharat Bhalke due to post-COVID-19 complications in November last year.
As per the district election officials, Autade defeated Bhalke by a margin of 3,733 votes. While Autade polled 1,09,450 votes, Bhalke bagged 1,05,717.
A total of 2,27,421 votes, including postal ballots, were counted, they said.
Talking about BJP's win, Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said in a statement, 'The result has shown a mirror to the corrupt MVA government.' State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, 'I congratulate Samadhan Autade on his victory. I also congratulate (BJP MLC) Prashant Paricharak for his efforts in clinching the victory for Autade.
According to political observers, Autade had received support from Paricharak, whose uncle Sudhakar Paricharak had unsuccessfully fought the 2019 assembly election against Bharat Bhalke. Sudhakar Paricharak died due to COVID-19 last year.
Autade had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 assembly elections as an independent candidate.
Patil further said that the victory indicates that there was anger among people, which they expressed through their votes.
'People are very anxious and going forward they will express their anger whenever they get an opportunity. So even if all the three (MVA) parties come together, people are angry and they have lost confidence in MVA. They have realised that Uddhav Thackeray cannot run the government,' he alleged.
There are several reasons for the NCP's defeat, such as snapping of power connections, no fulfilment of crop insurance and no package for daily wage workers during the pandemic, he said.
NCP's state unit president Jayant Patil said that as they could not establish good communication between two teams of Pandharpur and Mangalvedha tehsils, the party candidate lost the election by a whisker.
'All the party workers and leaders from the MVA helped during the campaign, but we failed to take everyone from both the tehsils along and as a result, we faced a defeat,' he said.
Meanwhile, when asked about the MVA candidate's loss in the bypoll, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that it was a setback, but it would not have any bearing on the government.
Meanwhile, police have detained around 40 people from Pandharpur-Mangalvedha for violating section 144 of the CrPC and COVID-19 protocols after acouple of incidents of party workerssplashing gulal (vermillion) were reported following the poll results.
'We are in the process of registering a couple of cases in Mangalvedha after some photos of party workers splashing gulal emerged. We have detained 30 to 40 people for alleged violation of section 144 and COVID-19 protocols,' said Atul Zende, Additional Superintendent of Police, Solapur rural police.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, NCP state chief Jayant Patil had campaigned in Pandharpur extensively. On the BJP's part, Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also campaigned in the constituency. PTI SPK MR NP NP