Nagpur, May 31 (IANS) Making a spectacular comeback, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Thursday bagged the prestigious Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha seat, snatching it from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party by a convincing margin of over 54,000 votes.
The NCP’s Madhukar Kukde secured around 376,000 votes compared to his nearest BJP rival Hemant Patle, who got around 322,000 votes.
Earlier in the day, Patle – who had defected from Shiv Sena on poll eve to the BJP and was rewarded with the ticket – was leading in several rounds but by noon, Kukde surged ahead in the vote-count.
NCP senior leader Ajit Pawar termed the victory “an outcome of the joint efforts with the Congress” which did not put up a candidate in Bhandara-Gondiya and supported Kukde.
The May 28 bypolls, necessitated by the resignation of sitting BJP member Nana Patole who subsequently joined the Congress, were marred by large-scale incidents of malfunctioning EVM-VVPATs with all the opposition parties and ruling ally Shiv Sena hurling allegations of foul play and tampering of the machines.
On Tuesday, the EC ordered a repoll in 49 polling stations across five Assembly segments in Bhandara-Gondiya, besides shunting out the Gondiya District Collector.