The united Opposition got a major boost on Thursday as several parties from its side emerged victorious in the Lok Sabha and Assembly bypolls, limiting BJP party and its allies to just three seats, and snatching the high-profile Kairana seat in Uttar Pradesh.
The results appeared more marked against the BJP if one takes into account the parties that had held these seats earlier. The BJP managed to win just one of the four Lok Sabha seats and one of the 10 Assembly seats, where bypolls were held. While the BJP alliance retained two LS seats — one in Maharashtra and another in Nagaland — it lost two others: Uttar Pradesh's Kairana and Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondiya. This prompted strong reactions from both the sides.
'Democracy has won'
The Uttar Pradesh results came as the biggest upset for the BJP with the joint Opposition candidate, RLD's Tabassum Hasan, winning in Kairana. The seat had fallen vacant after death of the BJP candidate Mriganka Singh's father, Hukum Singh.
Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav called the results "a defeat of divisive politics" and congratulated all Opposition parties for the results.
"The voters have answered through their vote on issues of sugarcane farmers, poverty and lawlessness," Akhilesh said. "Democracy has won, social justice has been delivered", he added while speaking to mediapersons.
RLD's Jayant Chaudhary said the Opposition unity will continue and the results showed that "Jinnah hara, Ganna jeeta" — referring to the recent controversy over the Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah's portrait and the problems being faced by sugarcane farmers.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said BJP's loss at its "laboratory of communal and hate politics", Kairana, clearly showed that people did not accept the ruling party's politics.
In Punjab, Congress' Hardev Singh Ladi wrested Shahkot from the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Dulal Das won Maheshtala bypoll in West Bengal, defeating BJP's Sujit Kumar Ghosh.
AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the results reflect the anger against the Modi government.
BJP downplays outcome
The BJP played down the outcome of the bypolls, saying people do not vote for a prime minister or chief minister in such elections but are driven by local issues and asserted that the party will win 2019 general polls.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the party will analyse the cause of defeat in the two LS seats.
In assembly seats, the BJP and its allies failed to retain Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh and Shahkot in Punjab, while Congress, CPM, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Trinamool retained their respective seats.
The BJP retained Tharali in Uttarakhand, but lost Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh. Samajwadi Party's Naeemul Hasan trounced BJP's Avni Singh in Noorpur. In Bihar, RJD won minority-dominated Jokihat by defeating BJP ally JD(U) by a huge margin of 41,000 votes.
Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said one has to take two steps backward before a big leap and the BJP is "going to take a massive leap."
BJP's Subramanian Swamy, however, had a word of caution for the party and said the "this huge setback in by polls is due to hubris".
"But the trend is easily reversible if party stops rewarding sycophancy and has more participatory decision making ethos amongst those leaders whom the public find credible. BJP has infrastructure to bounce back but needs a new ethos," he said.
'Nitish Kumar couldn't save Jokihat despite making Bihar ministers campaign'
RJD's Tejashwi Yadav of RJD said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who dumped the RJD and the Congress in 2017 to join hands with the BJP to form a new coalition government in the state, should resign if he has some conscience left.
"The people have given me new strength. Jokihat is a JD(U) stronghold and Nitish wasn’t able to save this seat despite the whole cabinet coming down there to campaign,” he said.
“The people of Jokihat have taken their revenge on those insulting their mandate. This is the gift they have given to those people distributing swords during Ram Navami. Our margin of victory is larger than the seats won by JD(U),” he said.
The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), an ally of the ruling NDA, on Thursday expressed concern over the loss suffered by JD(U). In a strongly-worded statement, the RLSP, headed by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, said, "It is no secret that discontent has been brewing among some sections of the NDA for quite some time." "Mostly, it has been because of the big brotherly attitude shown by the BJP," it said.
'Death knell for BJP has been sounded'
Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said the "death knell for the BJP has been sounded" and claimed that the federal front formula she had mooted has been a success.
The people are "disenchanted" with the BJP, she said.
"Death knell for the BJP has been sounded... The beginning of the end has started from Uttar Pradesh," she told reporters in Jalpaiguri.
Banerjee said Uttar Pradesh will play a crucial role in the next Lok Sabha poll due next year. "If Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Ajit Singh come together, they can reverse the 2014 figures."
"The regional parties, the federal front are now very strong in the country," she said.
The TMC chief said the BJP could not defeat the RJD in Jokhihat bypoll in Bihar "even after jailing Lalu Prasad Yadav", while in her state people reposed their trust in her party.
Speaking on the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, she said, it might take place in the next few months and "we have to be prepared". The Left came third.
In Kerala, Left's Saji Cheriyan won Chengannur bypoll. The Congress came second and the BJP third.
JMM retained Silli and Gomia seats in Jharkhand. In Gomia, JMM's Babita Devi defeated AJSU nominee Lambodar Mahto, while BJP came third. In Silli, JMM's Seema Mahto defeated AJSU chief Sudesh Mahto.
In Meghalaya, Congress candidate Miani D Shira won the bye-election from Ampati Assembly seat vacated by her father Mukul Sangma. She defeated National Peoples Party (NPP) candidate
Clement G Momin by 3191 votes.
Unfazed by defeat of his party in the hands of Congress in bypoll for Ampati seat, Meghalaya chief
minister Conrad K Sangma said it was rather a matter of concern for the Opposition as their winning margin has come down from 9,000 votes to just a little over 3,000 this time.
"The fact that the winning margin went down from 9,000 to a margin of 3000 is something which is concerning the Congress party. They would also looking back and say how come the margin have been drop so much," Conrad told mediapersons in Shillong. Conrad is heading a coalition government with BJP and some regional parties in Meghalaya after February poll.
The Congress has been holding this seat for the past 6 terms. "I am happy that we have been able to considerably reduce the margin that they had and I think it is a big gain for us," he said.
The BJP retained the Palghar Lok Sabha seat where its candidate Rajendra Gavit defeated Shriniwas Vanga of the Shiv Sena. Vanga is son of sitting MP Chintaman Vanga, whose death in January had necessitated the bypoll. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, however, alleged "discrepancies" in counting of votes for Palghar.
On Thursday evening, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is currently abroad for his mother Sonia Gandhi's medical treatment, asked all the parties to draw lessons from victories and defeats, as he congratulated the winners in Thursday's bypoll results in various states.
Congratulations to all the winners in the by polls, across India. Valuable lessons to be learnt from the victories & defeats for all parties. I want to thank all the workers & leaders of the Congress party for their hard work & dedication in these elections. God bless you all.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 31, 2018
The BJP, which had won an absolute majority on its own in the 2014 General Elections with 282 seats, has lost nine seats in by elections held in the last four years. After two losses and one win on Thursday, its tally stood at 273, just above the half-way mark.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 09:17:54 IST