Mumbai: It was a tribute of sorts for late R R Patil in Tasgaon-Kavthe Mahankal Assembly bypoll as the former deputy chief minister's widow Suman Patil won the election by a margin of over 1.12 lakh votes.
Suman, wife of late Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) stalwart Patil, contested on party ticket and had the advantage as no other party fielded any nominee against her as a mark of respect for her husband, whose death on February 16 necessitated the last Saturday's bye-election.
Sumantai, a political novice, however, had to face eight Independent candidates who were in the fray. Accompanied by daughter Smita, she was in tears while receiving the election certificate from the returning officer this afternoon.
Support had swelled for her during pre-election campaigns with many leaders canvassing for her, including NCP leader and Member of Parliament Supriya Sule who notably fainted during an election rally for Sumantai in Tasgaon. The Assembly seat fell vacant following the death of R R Patil, who was elected from the constituency on NCP ticket in October last year.
While no other party fielded candidate against Suman as a mark of respect for Patil, who had cordial relations across political spectrum, there was speculation that some in BJP were covertly helping Swapnil Patil, a youth BJP leader from Tasgaon, who contested as an Independent.
Former Minister and BJP leader Ajit Ghorpade, who lost to R R Patil in the Assembly election, had announced he would campaign for Swapnil, who has been in NCP and Congress in the past.
Swapnil had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Assembly election against Patil as an Independent. He joined BJP last year and has become a close aide of BJP Member of Parliament Sanjay Patil.