By Arun Pratap Singh
Champawat/Dehradun, 3 Jun: Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami won a historic mandate in Champawat by-election when the result of the byelection was declared today. He won by a record margin of 55,025 votes against his nearest rival Nirmala Gehtodi of Congress, who also lost her security deposit. As a sitting CM contesting a byelection, his victory was already considered certain, but the record margin with which he has managed to do so would go a long way in enhancing his image as it has sent a clear political message. As the trends of counting of votes kept coming out, the margin of difference kept on getting wider with each round of counting and, as a result, it led to the celebrations in the ruling BJP from the round one itself.
CM Dhami also reached Tanakpur immediately after the results to express gratitude to the public.
It may be recalled that the polling for the Champawat by-election was held on 31 May. The election on this assembly constituency was necessitated by the fact that Dhami had lost his own personal election from Khatima Assembly constituency even as the BJP had won the assembly elections quite comfortably. When the BJP leadership still chose Dhami as the CM, once again, it was clear that he would have to contest a byelection. Kailash Gehtodi, who had won the Champawat assembly constituency for the second time in a row, vacated the seat to enable Dhami to contest the byelection. Now that Dhami has quite comfortably won the byelection, he is expected to take strict and more daring administrative decisions much more confidently.
Counting of votes started at 8 a.m. today. Apart from CM Dhami, Congress’s Nirmala Gehtodi, SP supported Manoj Kumar Bhatt and independent Himanshu Gadkoti were in the fray. CM Dhami’s victory was considered almost certain after the results of the first round were declared, but as the rounds progressed, he moved ahead with a record margin of votes.
When the results were declared, Dhami won by a record margin of 55,025 votes breaking the record created by the then CM Vijay Bahuguna, who had won the Sitarganj by-election by a record margin against Prakash Pant of BJP.
In the process of creating a record win for BJP candidate Dhami, Congress candidate Nirmala Gehtodi could not manage to even save her security margin and she ended by securing merely 3607 votes. This is perhaps for the first time that a Congress candidate has forfeited her security deposit in the twenty-two year history of Uttarakhand as a separate state. It may be recalled that after the polling, Gehtodi had alleged lack of support from the party seniors in the campaign, an allegation which she later withdrew, probably under pressure, the very next day.
BJP’s leaders led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath have congratulated CM Pushkar Singh Dhami for the victory in the by-election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet that he was sure that after this historic win, the dynamic Chief Minister of Uttarakhand would work even harder for the progress of Uttarakhand. Modi also thanked the people of Champawat for putting their faith in the BJP and appreciating the hard work of the party workers. On the other hand, CM Yogi Adityanath tweeted a congratulatory message for Dhami and said that the historic victory in Champawat was dedicated to the people-centric welfare policies of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP.
Counting of votes began at eight in the morning amidst tight security in the Van Panchayat Bhawan auditorium located at Gauralchaud ground of the district headquarters. First the postal ballots were counted. Counting of EVMs started after about an hour. A total of 65 personnel including reserve for counting of votes and 27 personnel were engaged in the counting of postal ballots. A counting supervisor, a counting assistant and a micro observer were posted at each table. Twelve tables were set up for the counting of votes in 13 phases. In the polling held on 31 May, more than 64 percent of voting was recorded.
In this election, out of 61,595 votes that were cast in total, BJP got 58,268 votes, Congress 3147, SP’s Lalit Bhatt 409, Himanshu Gadkoti, 399 and NOTA option was chosen by 372 voters. In the postal ballots, BJP got 990 votes, 86 votes went to Congress, SP secured 3 while 5 went to NOTA, 3 went to Independents. In all, out of 62,898 votes (including both the EVM votes and the postal ballots), CM Dhami got 58,258. As many as 215 postal votes were found invalid.
Dhami ended up getting around 93 percent of the votes cast.