Despite the absence of its jailed leader Lalu Prasad Yadav from the campaigning in Bihar bypolls, RJD bagged the Araria Lok Sabha seat on Wednesday. The party also retained the Jehanabad Assembly seat, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Bhabhua Assembly constituency in the bypolls, voting for which was conducted on Sunday.
RJD's Kumar Krishna Mohan Alias Suday Yadav defeated Abhiram Sharma (JDU) by 35,036 votes in Jehanabad while its candidate Sarfaraz Alam won in Araria by 61,988 votes. RJD got 5,09,334 votes and BJP got 4,47,346 votes in the Araria bypoll, according to ANI.
BJP's Rinki Pandey won the Bhabhua seat by margin of 15,490 votes. Counting of votes for the three seats in Bihar began amid tight security around 8 am. Araria went to polling on Sunday along with two Assembly seats of Jehanabad and Bhabhua.
After RJD's victory was announced in Jehanabad, Leader of Opposition in Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Yadav thanked the people of Bihar and said, "This victory is the victory of Lalu's ideology."
This was the first electoral battle in Bihar since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who also heads the JD(U), walked out of the alliance with the RJD and the Congress and joined the BJP-led NDA in 2017. The bypoll in Araria was seen as a test for the ruling JD(U)-BJP combine as well as the Opposition RJD-Congress alliance ahead of the big battle in the General Elections due next year.
Reacting to early trends, Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter Misa Bharti had said that the results have announced the "end of Nitish Kumar's politics" as the RJD looked set to bag both the Araria Lok Sabha seat and the Jehanabad Assembly constituency.
In Jehanabad, the RJD retained the Assembly seat that fell vacant after the death of Mundrika Yadav. The party gave a ticket to Mundrika's son Kumar Krishna Mohan. The BJP retained the Bhabhua Assembly seat riding on a sympathy wave for Anand Bhushan Pandey, whose death at the age of 48, necessitated the bypoll. The saffron party had fielded Pandey's wife Rinky.
Hindustani Awam Morcha's national spokesperson, E Ajay Yadav, reacting to the results of the Bihar by-elections, said that the NDA was paying the price for underestimating their party and its leader, the former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who has a great hold on Jahanabad. "But NDA has chosen to ignore this and the result of that is in front of us today. If they had chosen Jitan Ram Manjhi as their candidate, it would have been a different day. The poor, Dalit communities consider him their leader. His joining the Mahagatbandhan has made the alliance stronger in the region. Not just in Bihar, now even the UPA will come back strong across the country. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar's countdown has begun."
The contest in Araria was mainly between RJD's Sarafaraz Alam, Taslimuddin's son, and BJP's Pradip Singh, who had won the seat in 2009 and finished runner-up in 2014.
Commenting on emerging trends in by-elections happening in Bihar, CPI state working committee member Irfan Ahmad Faatmi said these results will impact the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Voters in these constituencies have proved that they had favoured Nitish Kumar in Assembly elections to stop BJP from coming to power, Ahmad said, adding that the chief minister had pressed his ministers and MLAs to campaign in Jehanabad by-election, but the voters have given a befitting reply to him.
Ahmad said the trend in Araria is also an answer to BJP state president Nityanand Rai's comment that Sarfaraz's victory will turn Araria into a hub of ISI and Pradip's victory will turn into a citadel of nationalists. "People have rejected BJP's hate politics," he said. CPI had not fielded candidates offering support to RJD-Congress coalition in bypoll.
The current bypoll equations are also likely to reflect in the seat-sharing between the BJP and the JD(U) for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
There were reports of police resorting to the mild use of force outside the counting centre in Jehanabad as young RJD supporters indulged in boisterous jubilations over the news of their candidate Yadav establishing an unassailable lead over former MLA and JD(U) nominee Abhiram Sharma.
Fifty-seven percent votes were recorded in Araria while the voter turnout was 54.03 percent and 50.06 percent in Jehanabad and Bhabhua respectively. The polling was by and large peaceful, the election official said.
With inputs from agencies and 101Reporters
Updated Date: Mar 14, 2018 20:06 PM