Bhubaneswar: Ruling BJD's Subhas Gond on Sunday won the by-election to the Umerkote assembly constituency in Odisha's Maoist-affected Nabarangpur district defeating his nearest BJP candidate by 21,061 votes, officials said.

While Subhas Gond polled 54,713 votes, Dharmu Gond of BJP bagged 33,652 votes in the by-poll voting for which was held on November 30, Nabarangpur district collector Sibabrata Das said.

Congress candidate Jatindra Gond was pushed to the third position in the triangular contest as he polled 32,877 votes in the tribal-dominated constituency having about 1.65 lakh voters, said Das, who was the district election officer.

With the victory, ruling BJD retained the seat for which by-election was necessitated following the killing of its legislator Jagabandhu Majhi by suspected Maoists on September 24.

BJD's win assumes significance as the by-poll was held ahead of the three-tier Panchayat elections slated for February next year.

The Umerkote by-election was being keenly watched in political circles as observers viewed it as a precursor to the panchayat elections.

The by-poll result brought joy and celebrations among ruling BJD leaders and workers at many places, while opposition Congress and BJD leaders viewed it as an "outcome of money and muscle power".

(Agencies)