By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 28 Nov: The BJP has managed to retain the Pithoragarh assembly seat. BJP candidate Chandra Pant was declared victorious from the seat defeating her nearest rival candidate, Anju Lunthi of Congress, by more than 3,000 votes. The counting was held today for the bypoll, which had been held on 25 November. While Chandra Pant of the BJP polled a total of 26,086 votes, Congress candidate Anju Lunthi polled a total of 22,819 votes. The result was declared this afternoon by Chief Election Officer and DM, Pithoragarh, VK Jogdande. Manoj Bhatt of SP was the other candidate in the fray, but he could secure only 835 votes while 844 voters chose to reject all the candidates and cast their votes in favour of NOTA (None of the above candidate). It may be recalled that the bypoll had been necessitated due to the sudden death of sitting MLA and Cabinet Minister Prakash Pant on 5 June this year. BJP strategically chose his widow Chandra Pant, who was a teacher before entering active politics as its candidate, hoping for sympathy votes. On the other hand, last time Congress candidate and former MLA Mayukh Mahar refused to contest. Congress then declared Anju Lunthi as its candidate. The BJP win was therefore expected and the result did not spring any surprise. However, the voters did not appear to be particularly excited about the bypoll which is evident from the fact that less than half the voters exercised their franchise, not unusual though for a bypoll. The margin of 3267 votes by which Chandra Pant won the election can’t be stated to be a big one, even if it is a clear victory for the BJP, which probably did not expect this close a fight. Counting of votes began at 8 a.m. at the Government PG College. Results were declared at 2:30 p.m. In the beginning postal ballots were counted followed by the counting of the EVMs. After her victory, Chandra Pant appeared to be emotional and she stated that her priorities would remain similar to her late husband Prakash Pant’s priorities and dreams. She would do her utmost to complete the unfinished tasks of Prakash Pant and would do her best to fulfil his dreams. She also expressed her gratitude to the people of Pithoragarh for the trust and faith reposed in her. In the first round, BJP got 2405 votes, Congress got 2317 votes, SP got 76 votes and NOTA got 68 votes. In the second round, BJP and Congress got 2361 votes, SP got 234 votes and NOTA got 104 votes. In the third round, BJP got 2718 votes, Congress 2351, SP got 69 votes and NOTA got 119 votes. In the fourth round, BJP got 2794 votes, Congress got 2516 votes, SP got 50 votes and NOTA got 90 votes. In the fifth round, BJP got 2670 votes, Congress got 2206 votes, SP got 43 votes and NOTA got 76 votes. In the sixth round, BJP got 3289 votes, Congress 3040, SP got 472 votes and NOTA got 457 votes. In the seventh round, BJP got 2313 votes, Congress got 2245 votes, SP got 56 votes and NOTA got 72 votes. In the eighth round, BJP got 2521 votes, Congress 2158, SP got 74 votes and NOTA got 73 votes. In the ninth round, BJP got 1986, Congress 1285, SP 61 and NOTA 55 votes. In the 10th round, the BJP got 1910 votes, Congress 1145, SP got 69 and NOTA got 60 votes. In the 11th round, BJP got 679 votes, Congress got 674 votes, SP got 15 votes and NOTA got 20 votes. In the postal ballot count, BJP got 255 votes, Congress, 116, SP, 9, and NOTA, 9 votes. The counting was done under strict supervision of the security forces. Three COs, four inspectors, six SOs, 25 SIs, 10 head constables, 125 constables were deployed to conduct the counting of votes peacefully. Apart from these, a platoon of PAC had also been deployed. One and a half platoons were deployed in the SSB campus.