M A I N   N E W S

Bypoll jolt to Congress, INLD keeps Ellenabad
Abhey Chautala wins by 6,227 votes
Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, January 23
Abhey Singh Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal today won the Ellenabad bypoll, defeating his nearest rival Bharat Singh Beniwal of the Congress by a margin of 6,227 votes. Chautala polled 64,813 votes against Beniwal’s 58,586. Kusum Chaudhary of the Samast Bharatiya Party got 1,353 votes.

The election was necessitated following the resignation of INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala from the seat who preferred to retain Uchana Kalan. He had won both seats in the October Assembly elections last year.

Chautala had won this seat by defeating Bharat Singh Beniwal by a margin of 16,423 votes. While the INLD has the satisfaction of retaining the seat, the Congress, too, is happy to have restricted the INLD to a much reduced victory margin in the stronghold of the Chautalas.

The counting started at the scheduled time amid tight security at Panchayat Bhawan here. Fortunes kept fluctuating with each round. The INLD nominee, who obtained a lead in the third round of counting, more or less maintained it in the next nine rounds.

Congress nominee Beniwal saw a lead over his INLD rival by 734 votes in the first round of counting and conceded a small lead of 84 votes in the second round. The third and the fourth rounds, which comprised INLD strongholds like Gudiakhera, Bakrianwali and other villages in the Nathusari Chopta block, saw Abhey Singh getting a lead of 2,168 votes and 988 votes, respectively. The sixth and seventh rounds, comprising Ellenabad town and surrounding villages, went in favour of the Congress.

However, the lead Beniwal managed in these rounds, was much less than expected by the Congress and could not cover the margin already scored by his rival. Beniwal led over Chautala by 612 votes in the sixth round and 593 votes in the seventh round.

Abhey Singh came out of the counting hall for a while after the seventh round and announced that his victory was a foregone conclusion. Celebrations by the INLD began soon after and party workers were seen dancing on the beat of the drum on Barnala Road outside Panchayat Bhawan.

Terming his victory as a mandate against Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Abhey Singh demanded his resignation. He maintained that he had not won the election against Beniwal, but the Chief Minister as he had been telling the voters during campaigning that voting for the Congress would mean electing Beniwal as also him as their MLA.

Abhey Singh alleged that the Congress indulged in several malpractices and yet had suffered a humiliating defeat. Beniwal left the counting hall in a huff and was not available on his cellphone thereafter.



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