BJD wins byelection in Odisha’s Pipili Assembly constituency

Published : October 03, 2021 21:05 IST

In Bhubaneswar, BJD party workers celebrate after the party candidate Rudra Pratap Maharathy won the Pipili byelection, on October 3. Photo: PTI

The ruling Biju Janata Dal has won the byelection in Odisha’s Pipili Assembly constituency by defeating its main rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The polling in the seat was held on September 30 and counting of the votes was done on October 3.

The BJD candidate Rudra Pratap Maharathy, former BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy's son, defeated the BJP’s Ashrit Patnaik by 20,916 votes. While Maharathy secured 96,972 votes, Patnaik secured 76,056 votes.

The Congress performed poorly, with its nominee, Bishwokeshan Harichandan Mohapatra, securing only 4,261 votes. The highest-ever voter turnout was recorded in the constituency this time. According to the Election Commission of India, the BJD secured 53.6 per cent votes, while the BJP got 42 per cent. The Congress bagged 2.4 per cent votes, less than its vote share in the last election.

Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik thanked the people of Pipili for extending their support to Rudra Pratap Maharathy. He also congratulated party workers and leaders on the victory in the byelection. The byelection in Pipili, which is part of the Puri Lok Sabha constituency, was necessitated by death of Pradeep Maharathy in October last year.

The byelection was scheduled to be held on April 17 but was countermanded after the Congress candidate Ajit Mangaraj died of COVID-19 on April 14. It was then slated for May 13 but was deferred further due to a festival on that day and rescheduled to be held on May 16. But it was postponed again in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic.

The Chief Minister skipped campaigning for the byelection. He had campaigned on virtual mode on April 12, before the byelection was deferred. The BJD, however, had engaged a large number of party workers and leaders in campaigning. No incident of violence was reported either during electioneering or during polling in the constituency unlike in many past elections.

The BJP campaign seemed to be lacking the aggression it had during the simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assembly in 2019. The party, however, engaged many senior leaders belonging to Odisha to campaign in Pipili. They included Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, former Union Minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi and Sambit Patra, who unsuccessfully contested as the BJP’s candidate for the Puri Lok Sabha seat in 2019.

The BJP had also lost the byelections held in Balasore and Tirtol Assembly constituencies in November last year. The BJD won both those seats.