Mumbai/Sangli: The Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party retained the Bandra East and Tasgaon-Kavthemahankal assembly seats in the April 11 by-elections, the results of which were announced here on Wednesday.
Sena candidate Trupti Sawant won the Bandra East constituency here, while Suman Patil bagged the Tasgaon-Kavthemahankal seat in Sangli district.
Sawant, widow of former Sena strongman Bala Sawant, secured a victory margin of over 19,000 votes, comfortably trouncing former chief minister and Congress candidate Narayan Rane and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM)'s Raja Rahbar Khan who stood a distant third.
Patil, widow of former deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, was elected by a huge margin of over 112,000 votes, crushing her nearest rival, rebel BJP candidate Swapnil Patil.
"We dedicate this victory to the people of Bandra East. (The late) Bala Sawant enjoyed a close rapport with his constituents. Who lost is not significant, it is a victory of principles," said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Referring to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) candidate who stood third in the election, Thackeray said even the Muslim voters have rejected that party's attempts to create votebank politics.
The outcome in Bandra East is viewed as a setback to Congress' Rane who faced a second successive defeat in assembly polls in six months.
The by-poll was expected to revive the Congress, routed in last year's Lok Sabha and assembly elections, and serve as a political comeback vehicle for Rane.
"I accept the people's verdict. They have voted on emotional lines, not on the development issues which was my plank. I am grateful to the Congress workers and leaders who have instilled me with new enthusiasm. However, nobody needs to advise me on what to do in future," reacted Rane with a veiled warning to detractors on the outcome.
Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan attempted to downplay the developments saying "(Narayan) Rane is a tough leader - couple of defeats cannot suppress him".
"He is a senior leader of the party and will continue to lead us even in future. There's no question that the election outcome could reflect on his future," Chavan said.
Chavan said that despite the defeat, the party's opposition to the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena would become even sharper by highlighting the manner in which the governments at the centre and state have misled the people.
This was the first crucial election after the appointment of Chavan at the helm of Congress in the state and Sanjay Nirupam as head of the Mumbai Congress a couple of months ago.