BJP's Dinesh Kashyap wins Bastar by-election

Scoring an impressive victory, Bharatiya Janata party has retained its Bastar (ST) Lok Sabha seat in the by-election when its candidate Dinesh Kashyap won the seat for the party, defeating his nearest Congress rival by a margin of more than 88,929 votes.

Kashyap defeated his nearest Congress rival Kawasi Lakhma, a sitting legislator from Konta (ST) assembly segment, in the contest in which the BJP nominee had maintained comfortable leads in seven assembly segments, except in Konta where Lakhma got a slender margin of just 1203 votes. CPI candidate Rama Sodi finished third.

Chief Minister Raman Singh described the party win in Bastar (ST) as a victory of the people who said had voted for BJP's commitment towards ensuring peace and development. "I consider the smooth conduct of by-elections as a vote against Naxalism and their sympathizers, who have been unleashing a false propaganda", he said reacting to the victory.

Dinesh Kashyap is the son of former BJP MP Baliram Kashyap—who had won the 2009 lok sabha polls by a margin of more than one lakh votes. By-election for the Bastar seat was necessitated following the death of Baliram Kashyap following a prolonged illness. Kashyap family holds considerable clout in Bastar as BJP candidate's younger brother Kedar is the minister for Public Health Engineering in the Raman Singh Ministry while his other family members held responsible positions in the three tier Panchayati Raj institutions.

The main opposition Congress, which tried to put up a united face—keeping aloof its well known internal squabbling—looked disappointed with the impressive margin scored by the BJP and blamed alleged misuse of official machinery by the ruling party.

A disappointed Congress candidate Kawasi Lakhma quipped "Elections in Naxalite affected Bastar constituency is different from polls in other constituencies. Election authorities had shifted a large number of polling stations to a distance of two kilometers to 40 kilometers. Polling parties could be airlifted to polling stations. What about the voters?" he said.

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