BJP combine wins Khadakwasla by-polls; NCP loses face
In a huge embarrassment to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar, the United Progressive Alliance has lost the Khadakwasla assembly seat which had witnessed a by-election on October 13.
The by-election to this seat was necessitated by the death of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA Ramesh Wanjale who died in June 2011.
With MNS chief Raj Thackeray not showing any inclination to field Wanjale's widow Harshada, Ajit Pawar convinced her to contest the elections on a NCP ticket.
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Image: Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar had convinced Harshada, widow of late MLA Ramesh Wanjale, to contest on a NCP ticket
Bhimrao Tapkir wins over a margin of 3,000 votes
With NCP fielding Harshada, the mood was so upbeat in the party that the victory in the by-elections was a forgone conclusion.
However, on Monday when the votes were counted, rival candidate Bhimrao Tapkir fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party in alliance with the Shiv Sena and Republican Party of India emerged victorious.
Tapkir had won over a margin of over 3,000 votes.
Image: BJP-Sena-RPI combine's Bhimrao Tapkir won by over 3,000 votes
The crucial role of Raj Thackeray
Besides the anti-incumbency, the factors that went against the NCP include MNS chief Raj Thackeray withdrawing from the contest when Harshada Wanjale announced her plans to fight the elections on a NCP ticket.
Though Thackeray attributed his move to honour the memory of Ramesh Wanjale, the move resulted in sense of distrust developing against Wanjale's widow by her husband's trusted aides and voters.
The NCP-Congress vote base was divided as local Congress leader Shrirang Chavan who was aspiring for ticket for the by-polls played spoilsport by entering the fray as an independent.
Invoking the Anna Hazare crusade against corruption, BJP leader Gopinath Munde asked the voters to follow the Gandhian.
Citing Hazare's call to defeat the Congress voters in Hisar by elections, Munde had asked voters to defeat the Congress-NCP in the by-polls.
Image: MNS chief Raj Thackeray had shown no inclination to field Harshada