The Congress Saturday managed to scrape through in West Bengal's Jangipur Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant due to the elevation of Pranab Mukherjee to the post of the country's president, with his son Abhijit winning by only 2,536 votes.
While Abhijit secured 3,32,919 votes, his nearest rival Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) Muzaffar Hussain lost in a photo finish getting 3,30,383 in the vote count Saturday.
The by-election was held Oct 10.
Pranab Mukherjee had retained the seat in the minority-dominated Murshidabad district by over 1.28 lakh votes in 2009.
The Congress votes dropped sharply to a little over 39 percent - a decrease of nearly 15 percent. The CPI-M, which got almost 39 percent, suffered a slight erosion of 1.53 percent compared to its vote share three years back.
Hussain, in fact, led in four - Jangipur, Sagardighi, Suti, Nabagram - of the seven assembly segments, but Mukherjee offset his rival's lead by doing well in Raghunathganj, Lalgola and Khargram.
The result saw a resurgence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the remote constituency located close to the India-Bangladesh border. The party's Sudhangshu Biswas polled 85,887 votes, which was over 10 percent of the valid votes. In 2009, the BJP had managed only two percent of the votes, which went up to four percent in the assembly elections last year.
Two pro-minority parties - Welfare Party of India and Social Democratic Party of India cut into the vote share of the established parties by bagging the support of over 66,000 people - constituting nearly eight percent of the valid votes.
The Trinamool Congress had not put up a nominee with party supremo Mamata Banerjee keeping her pledge to Pranab Mukherjee that she would not oppose the candidature of his son.
Abhijit expressed happiness over his win but said the slender margin was a cause for concern.
"The margin is surely a cause of concern but I am happy at the victory. Of course our vote bank has shrunk while the BJP's has expanded. We will discuss the issue with the state and district leadership."
He accused the BJP and the two pro-minority parties of trying to facilitate the victory of the CPI-M by dividing the votes.
Congress strongman Adhir Chowdhury said the absence of Pranab Mukherjee affected the Congress vote share. "Pranab Mukherjee is a towering personality. Abhijit is relatively new. Also some people opted for some other fringe parties".
CPI-M state secretary and Left Front chairman Biman Bose said his party gave the Congress a run for the money. "Through their experience, people are beginning to understand that the Left are their real friends".
There were 11 candidates in the fray.
Pranab Mukherjee was elected from this constituency twice in 2004 and 2009.