The Congress on Sunday retained the Damoh Assembly seat with the party candidate Ajay Tandon defeating his former colleague and nearest BJP rival Rahul Singh Lodhi by a margin of 17,097 votes, an official said.
Tandon (57) polled 74,832 votes while Lodhi (36) bagged 57,735 votes, Damoh Collector and Returning Officer Tarun Rathi said.
The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of Lodhi as the sitting MLA of the Congress. He later joined the BJP.
In the first round itself, Tandon took a lead of 700 votes over Lodhi and the gap increased in subsequent rounds.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had visited this constituency only once for electioneering.
The result indicates that Congress succeeded in projecting Lodhi as a deserter.
Congress contested the bypoll on the ”Bikau and Tikau” slogan.
”We told the Damoh electorate that if they want a ‘Tikau’ (durable) leader, they should vote for Tandon as Lodhi is ‘Bikau’ (salable),” MP Congress spokesman Bhupendra Gupta said.
From the BJP’s camp, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,Union minister Prahlad Patel, BJP MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, Madhya Pradesh BJP president VD Sharmaand almost all the ministers campaigned in Damoh for Lodhi.
Powerful BJP leader Jayant Malaiya, whom Lodhi had defeated last time as the Congress candidate, kept himself away from electioneering.
Besides, Lodhi’s entry in the BJP had not gone down well with local cadres in Damoh.
Madhya Pradesh BJP chief spokesman Deepak Vijaywargiya said the party leaders will introspect the defeat.
”I want to thank the people of Damoh. The message is clear that ‘politics of deals won’t work’,” elated Kamal Nath told reporters.