Mukesh Ranjan, Asian Age Corespondent
New Delhi, 18 October 2011. The result of the much-hyped Hisar Lok Sabha byelection was much on expected lines: the sympathy factor and a strategic electoral tieup with the BJP helping Haryana Janhit Congress candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi to defeat his nearest rival, the INLD’s Ajay Chautala, by a narrow margin of 6,323 votes. The seat had fallen vacant with the death of Mr Bishnoi’s father, former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal.
The Congress candidate, Jai Prakash, came third in a largely triangular contest — on the same lines as 2009. But the results were still a cause of concern for the Congress, given the sharp decline in the number of votes it polled. Sensing the severity of the defeat, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was reported to have said that the “reasons need to be examined”.
The Congress also drew blank in three Assembly byelections for which counting of votes took place on Monday. The BJP won Khadakwasla in Maharashtra, its JD(U) ally won Daraunda in Bihar while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti won Banswada in Andhra Pradesh.
At Khadakwasla in Pune district, the BJP’s Bhimrao Tapkir won the seat by 3,625 votes, defeating the NCP’s Harshada Wanjale, widow of MNS legislator Ramesh Wanjale, whose death necessitated the bypoll. Shiv Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut commented that it was “not only a defeat of the Congress-NCP alliance, but also a defeat for (deputy CM) Ajit Pawar”.
In Banswada in Andhra’s Nizamabad district, TRS candidate Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy defeated the Congress’ Srinivas Goud by 49,889 votes. The byelection was necessitated after sitting TDP MLA Pocharam resigned from both the Assembly and the TDP in March this year, and later joined the TRS.
In Bihar, the JD(U)’s Kavita Singh defeated the RJD’s Parmeshwar Singh by 20,092 votes, retaining the Daraunda seat for the party.
The byelection in Hisar had received a lot of media attention after anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his team had campaigned against the Congress in the constituency. Analysts hotly debated whether the Anna factor had influenced the result in any way, but the matter remained unresolved as there was little empirical evidence available. A senior poll analyst said: “It is true we cannot ascertain Team Anna’s impact. But one thing is sure: their venture in Hisar has proved fatal for them, as the cracks have appeared to widen in the team.”
Interestingly, even the defeated Congress rejected the Anna factor. Mr Bishnoi too said he owed nothing to the anti-corruption crusader. “I attribute my victory only to my father and to my ally, the BJP.” He said, however, that he respected Mr Hazare and would vote for the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament.
The election in the constituency took place on October 13 and witnessed around 70 per cent polling. Of the total 13.32 lakh registered voters, a little over 9.3 lakhs exercised their franchise. There were around 40 candidates in the fray, most of whom were Independents.