Congress retains Himachal Lok Sabha seat with huge margin

Shimla, June 30 (IANS) Congress candidate Pratibha Singh Sunday won the Mandi parliamentary bypoll with a huge margin of 136,724 votes, an election official said here.

She defeated her nearest rival Jai Ram Thakur, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator and former cabinet minister, in an almost one-sided contest.

Earlier, this seat in the Lok Sabha was represented by Pratibha Singh's husband and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who resigned following his election to the state assembly in December 2012.

Of the 582,249 votes polled, Pratibha Singh got 353,492 votes whereas Thakur got 216,768 votes, Chief Electoral Officer Narender Chauhan said in a statement.

The main contest was between the Congress and the BJP.

Poll officials said the Congress candidate secured a lead in 16 of the 17 assembly segments of the Mandi parliamentary constituency, the Congress' pocketborough.

In the Seraj assembly constituency in Mandi district, Thakur - who is known for his clean image - took the lead.

Second-time MP Pratibha Singh got the highest lead of 24,099 votes from the Rampur assembly seat, the stronghold of Virbhadra Singh, followed by Bharmour from where she attained lead of 16,117 votes.

In a statement from Delhi, Virbhadra Singh said: "I want to thank all the voters for the landslide victory of the Congress."

He said the victory confirms that people have expressed faith and confidence in the programmes and policies of his government.

Expressing gratitude to voters of rain-ravaged Kinnaur district, the chief minister said: "I specially thank the voters of Kinnaur who overwhelmingly participated even after the natural calamity hit the region."

He assured them that the government would reciprocate with the same spirit by ensuring speedy development works and undertaking massive relief and rehabilitation works.

Pratibha Singh was elected to the Lok Sabha from this seat earlier in 2004 after she defeated the BJP's Maheshwar Singh by 66,566 votes in 2004.

She had, however, lost to the four-time MP Maheshwar Singh in 1999 by over 131,000 votes.

Virbhadra Singh won the Mandi seat in 2009 by a slender margin of over 13,000 votes by defeating Maheshwar Singh. At that time, the BJP was ruling the state.

Maheshwar Singh, now a BJP rebel and member of the state assembly, in February last year launched a new political outfit, Himachal Lokhit Party.

"It is a victory of the programmes and policies of the Congress governments," Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri told IANS.

The Mandi parliamentary constituency - which includes Kullu, Mandi and some areas of Chamba and Shimla districts, besides the tribal-dominated Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti - is one of the biggest in the country.

--indo-Asian News Service

vg/rt/vt

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

As two of the most glamorous sides in the Indian T20 league, the focus of the match between Mumbai and Bangalore will invariably be on the middle-order… More »

BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan, says Manohar

BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srinivasan, says Manohar

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Pietersen ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »