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Kushwaha Makes Light Of BJP Victory In Gopalganj

A key political aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asserted that a division in “Mahagathbandhan” votes led to the RJD's defeat, by a wafer-thin margin, in the by-poll to Gopalganj assembly seat, the result of which was announced the day before.

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
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A key political aide of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asserted that a division in “Mahagathbandhan” votes led to the RJD's defeat, by a wafer-thin margin, in the by-poll to Gopalganj assembly seat, the result of which was announced the day before.

Talking to reporters in Sitamarhi district, Upendra Kushwaha, the parliamentary board chief of the JD(U) parliamentary board also urged voters to “beware of those who jump into the fray for no other purpose than ensuring the defeat of some other candidate”.

“There was a bikhraav (division) in Mahagathbandhan votes at Gopalganj. One of the candidates got about 8,000 votes while another garnered 12,000. These were all votes of the Mahagathbandhan. Had the division not taken place then the RJD would have won by a handsome margin”, said Kushwaha.

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In the Gopalganj assembly seat, BJP candidate Kusum Devi, wife of MLA Subhash Singh whose death had necessitated the by-election, polled 70,032 votes, while RJD's Mohan Gupta got 68,243.

Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM and Mayawati's BSP finished third and fourth respectively, together accounting for more than 20,000 votes. 

Kushwaha was referring to votes respectively polled by Deputy Chief and RJD heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav's maternal aunt Indira Yadav, who contested on a BSP ticket, and Abdul Salam, the nominee of Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, which is often accused of serving as the BJP's “B team”.

Indira Yadav polled 8,854 votes while Abdul Salam secured 12,212 votes. 

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“I would like to appeal to voters not to fall into the trap of such candidates. They do not enter the contest with any serious ambition of their own. Their sole motive is to ensure the defeat of another candidate. Votes must not be wasted on such candidates”, said Kushwaha.

The JD(U) leader also ridiculed the BJP, a former ally that his party dumped three months ago to form a new government as part of the “Mahagathbandhan”, for displaying “khushfahmi” (misplaced sense of jubilation) over the outcome of by-polls to Gopalganj, which it retained, and Mokama which it lost but with a margin that was one of the lowest for that constituency in recent history.

“The BJP cannot deny that after all our candidate registered a victory by a comfortable margin in Mokama”, said Kushwaha, who had campaigned actively in both seats.

By-election to Mokama was necessitated by the disqualification of RJD MLA Anant Kumar Singh whose wife Neelam Devi retained the seat, defeating the BJP candidate by a margin of more than 16,000 votes.

The BJP has been at pains to underscore that Neelam Devi's victory owed itself to the clout of her jailed husband, known as “Chhote Sarkaar” in Mokama, and the diminished margin of win was a signal of the people's disenchantment with the multi-party ruling coalition.

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Kushwaha sought to give it back to the former ally underscoring “the BJP should know that votes got by its Gopalganj candidate Kusum Devi were not because of the party. She had the sympathy factor in her favor. Without that, the party would have come a cropper in that assembly segment”.

The by-elections had served as the first test of strength between the ruling alliance, comprising more than half a dozen parties, and the NDA which has been emaciated with the exit of the chief minister.

Both formations face yet another contest early next month when a by-poll for Kurhani, necessitated by the disqualification of RJD MLA Anil Kumar Sahani, is scheduled.

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(Inputs from PTI)

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