Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik shows victory sign along with supporters, after the party candidate Rita Sahu won Bijepur by-election, in Bhubaneswar | PTI Photo
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) retained its hegemony by winning the Bijepur by-elections with a handsome margin.
BJD candidate Rita Sahu won garnered 102,871 votes after 20 rounds of counting, piping her nearest rival Ashok Panigrahi from BJP by 41,933 votes. Sahu is the wife of deceased Congress leader Subal Sahu whose untimely demise necessitated the by-elections at Bijepur constituency in western Odisha.
The unprecedented bypoll on February 24 witnessed a voter turnout of 72 per cent. BJD secured 58 per cent of the votes followed by rival BJP with 33 per cent. Congress finished a humiliating third, receiving only five per cent of the votes.
Reacting to the mandate, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik said the peace-loving people of Odisha have rejected the politics of hatred and violence. "Humbled by love and trust of the people of Bijepur for giving BJD a massive victory. BJD lives in the hearts of the people of Odisha. I thank each and every BJD worker who has worked hard for this. We will continue our efforts to build a prosperous and empowered Odisha", he tweeted.
Senior BJP leader and Union petroleum & natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan said his party accepted the people's mandate. "The BJD's strategy worked for the Bijepur bypoll. We did not succeed in carrying the message of the BJD government's neglect with the Bijepur residents. BJP would introspect and learn lessons from this defeat and this will assist the party in the 2019 elections."