The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Rajendra Gavit increased his lead to more than 18,400 votes as Shiv Sena’s Shriniwas Wanaga pushed ahead of Bahujan Vikas Aghadi’s candidate Baliram Jadhav to claim the second posistion in early trends from Maharashtra’s Palghar Lok Sabha seat constituency, where the counting of votes is underway on Thursday.
At the end of eight rounds of counting, Gavit got 91,795 votes followed by Wanaga at 73,386 and Jadhav at 62,187 in the bypolls that are being seen as a dry run before the 2019 general elections for the BJP and the opposition.
The Congress got 10,366 votes and others 12,131 in Palghar.
In Bhandara Gondiya, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress candidate Madhukar Kukde was leading by 5,400 votes after the fourth round of counting.
The bypoll in Palghar was necessitated after the death of sitting member of Parliament Chintaman Wanaga in Palghar, where the fight was multi-cornered with the BJP, Shiv Sena and local outfit Bahujan Vikas Aghadi in the fray.
There is a direct fight between the BJP and NCP in Bhandara-Gondiya, where the bypolls were held after Nana Patole resigned as the member of Parliament.
Both the seats were held by the BJP and losing it could be seen as a setback for the party.
The Palghar battle became a matter of prestige for the BJP as its ally Shiv Sena challenged it by fielding the late Wanaga’s son Shrinivas. If the BJP wins the seat, it will be a big boost to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and ensure that the BJP’s negotiating power with the Shiv Sena increases.
The Bhandara-Gondiya contest is also significant for the Congress and NCP, who have come together after parting ways in the 2014 assembly elections. If the NCP wins the seat, it will be a boost for them, but if it loses, there will be bitterness between the two parties as Congress leaders suspect the NCP did not fight it seriously.
The by-elections held on May 28 was accompanied by widespread charges by the opposition parties about the malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verification Audit Paper Trial Machines (VVPATs).
The Election Commission dismissed the reports as “exaggerated”, and clarified that 96 ballot units, 84 control units of EVMs and 1202 VVPATs had to be replaced.