Congress suffers setbacks in by-elections

BJP sweeps all six seats in Gujarat

Congress suffers setbacks in  by-elections

In a major setback to the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year, the party lost all the four parliamentary by-elections in Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal. In Gujarat, it lost to the BJP two Lok Sabha and all four Assembly seats.

The lone consolation for the Congress came from Maharashtra where it retained the Yavatmal Assembly seat defeating the BJP. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi received a big boost before the BJP national executive meeting to be held in Goa over the weekend.

For Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, it was a shock as his party Janata Dal-United (JD-U) lost Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat to the Rashtriya Janata Dal. West Bengal’s reigning Trinamool Congress retained the Howrah seat.

The Congress was quick to downplay the defeats. “These are local elections and they should be seen as such. Don’t see them as results of national elections. Every state has its own character... Read it in the local context,” party spo­kesman Sandeep Dikshit said.

A triumphant Modi said in Delhi: “The people of Gujarat have given a thumping victory to the BJP and the Congress has fared miserably,” the Gujarat strongman said.

Modi further added: “The BJP’s emphatic victory and the Congress’s defeat in two Lok Sabha seats is in a way a message of public anger and an ultimatum.”

In Gujarat, the BJP won Porbandar and Banaskantha Lok Sabha seats. Rubbing salt on Congress wounds in Gujarat was the BJP victory at Porbandar which was won by former Congressman and now BJP leader Vitthal Radadiya. The turncoat made headlines as he was caught on camera brandishing a gun at a toll plaza. He won by 1.34 lakh votes against his Congress rival.

In the Banaskantha seat, the Congress could not convert sympathy into votes as its candidate, Krishna Gadhvi, whose husband Mukesh Gadhvi’s death necessitated the by-election, lost by more than 71,000 votes.

In addition to its Lok Sabha victory, the BJP won all the four Assembly seats, taking its tally in the Lower House to 119 in the 182-member House, while Congress’s tally is down to 57.

Bihar picture

In Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Prabhunath Singh won by a margin of 1.36 lakh votes trouncing Janata Dal-United nominee P K Sahi, a close confidante of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had the satisfaction of ensuring victory of her party colleague, former Indian football captain Prasun Banerjee who defeated CPI(M).

The Trinamool victory is considered significant as it came in the wake of the chit fund scandal in which some party leaders’ involvement was alleged.
This was also the first election after the TMC and the Congress parted ways. The Congress contested alone and was pushed to the third place.

Gung-ho

The people of Gujarat have given a thumping victory to the BJP and Congress has fared miserably... is in a way a message of public anger and an ultimatum to the Congress.”
Narendra Modi,
BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister

It will not be a defeat of Shahi but a defeat of Nitish Kumar in Maharajganj
Lalu Prasad, RJD chief

Congress requires us. We don’t need Congress. The people in Howrah have given the message that we should go alone. Our victory reflected the mahajot (grand alliance) of people against all immoral alliance.
Mamata Banerjee,
Trinamool Congress chief and
West Bengal Chief Minister

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