Gujarat: BJP wins Khadia assembly bypolls



Ahmedabad: The BJP on Thursday retained the Khadia assembly seat here, its bastion for last 25 years, and emerged victorious with a narrow margin defeating rival Congress.

BJP candidate Bhushan Bhatt, son of late BJP leader Ashok Bhatt, won the Khadia bypoll trumping his nearest rival Jagat Shukla by 2,473 votes.

Out of the total 37,380 votes cast, Bhatt got 19,501, while 17,028 went in favour of Shukla. Three independent candidates Iqbal Shiekh polled 280 votes, Manish Bhrambhatt 337 and Rahul Mehta 334.

After election results were declared, allegations were levelled by the Congress and BJP against each other.

BJP winning candidate Bhushan Bhatt alleged that the Congress and Election Commission (EC) had conspired against his party and kept the voting on a working day instead of a Sunday.

"I doubt the intentions of the EC who seems to be working in favour of the Congress by scheduling the voting for the Khadia bypoll on a working day, instead of holiday or Sunday," Bhatt told reporters after his victory.

He said that Khadia was a thickly populated area comprising working class people. "But people have voted in favour of BJP and paid their homage to late Ashok Bhatt who had been representing them since many years," Bhatt added.

He dedicated his victory to his late father and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress candidate Jagat Shukla alleged that there was misuse of government machinery by the BJP during the bypoll.

"The defeat is a verdict of the people and we accept it. But I would like to mention that the misuse of government machinery had played a vital role in BJP's victory," Shukla said. He further said that the Congress would work more and try to win the seat next time.

During polling on February 14, the voter turnout for the Assembly seat was 52 percent. Khadia constituency located in the heart of the city was held for the last eight terms by late veteran BJP leader Ashok Bhatt, who was also the State Assembly speaker.

He died mid-term on September 29, last year, following which the bypoll was necessitated.

BJP candidate Bhushan Bhatt is Ashok Bhatt's son while Congress had given ticket to their youth leader and local businessman Shukla.

PTI