The BJP today suffered a major blow in in the Assembly by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat,the states it had swept in the Lok Sabha polls four months ago, losing 13 of the 24 seats held by it.
Considered yet another test of popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today's reverses in the by-elections come after the party's disappointing performance in the assembly by-elections in Bihar, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh in the last two months.
Out of the 32 Assembly seats across nine states for which counting of votes was taken up today, BJP won 10, Congress seven and Samajwadi Party seven while TDP, Trinamool Congress, AIUDF and CPI(M) bagged one each. One seat in Sikkim was won by an Independent. In three seats in UP where results were awaited, BJP was leading in two and Samajwadi Party in one.
It was Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP was on a high after a near-total sweep of the 80 Lok Sabha seats, that delivered a humiliating blow to the saffron party as it lost seven of the 11 seats held by it, including one held by its ally Apna Dal. BSP's absence in the by-elections had made it a virtual straight fight between SP and BJP in the politically crucial state.
Equally crushing was the defeat in Rajasthan where BJP conceded three of the four seats to Congress, which also managed to wrest three of the nine seats in Gujarat, where the elections were held for the first time in 12 years sans Narendra Modi.
All the seats in Uttar Pradesh (11), Gujarat (9) and Rajasthan (4) were held by BJP and the bypolls were necessitated after the MLAs were elected to the Lok Sabha.
Gloating over BJP's reverses, the Congress and Samajwadi Party called it as a defeat of the communal forces. They said people had rejected the Narendra Modi Government and BJP's "politics of polarisation".
The BJP, which is hoping to do well in the coming assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, conceded that the bypoll results were not up to expectations and said that people had voted on local issues.
The only solace for BJP on an otherwise dismal day was its entry in West Bengal Assembly. BJP candidate Shamik Bhattacharya won the Basirhat Dakshin seat in North 24 parganas district by a margin of 1,742 votes against its nearest Trinamool Congress rival and former Indian soccer captain Dipendu Biswas. The seat was earlier held by CPI(M).
BJP retained the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Prime Minister Modi, albeit with a reduced margin. Ranjanben Bhatt thumped her Congress rival Narendra Rawat by over 3.29 lakh votes. Modi had won the seat by 5.7 lakh votes.
In the other two Lok Sabha bye-elections, Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh, the stronghold of ruling SP, Tej Pratap Singh, the grand nephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav, defeated BJP's Prem Singh Skahkya by a margin of more than 3.21 lakh votes. Mulayam had vacated the seat after he chose to retain Azamgarh.
In Medak Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana, the ruling TRS retained the seat vacated by party chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. Its candidate K Prabhakar Reddy won by 3,61,277 votes.
In Uttar Pradesh, out of 11 assembly seats, Samajwadi Party won seven seats and BJP one. In Gujarat, BJP won six seats and Congress three, while in Rajasthan Congress bagged three and BJP one. In Andhra Pradesh, ruling TDP retained the Nandigama seat.
In West Bengal, Trinamool and BJP won one seat each. The BJP also made other advances in eastern region wresting Silchar constituency in Assam from the Congress. The All India United Democratic Front and the ruling Congress retained Jamunamukh and Lakhipur seats respectively in the state.
CPI-M won the Manu (ST) Assembly constituency in Tripura while Independent candidate R N Chamling, brother of Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, won Rangang-Yangang assembly seat in Sikkim by 708 votes defeating his nearest Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) nominee.
Last month, the saffron party suffered a 4-6 defeat at the hands of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress alliance in Bihar and yielded two strongholds to Congress in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh in the by-elections. In July, it lost all the three assembly seats in Uttarakhand to Congress in the by-elections. @Body:
In UP, among the seats lost by BJP were Bijnor, Thakurdwara, Nighasan, Hamirpur, Charkhari, Sirathu, Balha. It retained Saharapur (city seat).
Charkhari was earlier held by Union Minister Uma Bharati.
In Gujarat, BJP lost Dessa, Mangrol and Khambalia seats to Congress. It managed to retain Maninagar, Tankara, Talaja, Anand, Kheda and Limkheda assembly seats.
In Rajasthan, BJP lost in Nasirabad, Weir and Surajgarh Assembly constituencies. It retained Kota city.
In West Benagl, whereas Trinamool Congress bagged the prestigious Chowringhee seat. TMC candidate Nayana Bandopadhyay won by a margin of 14344 votes against her nearest rival BJP's Ritesh Tiwari.
AIDUF's Abdur Rahim Ajmal won the Jamunamukh seat defeating Congress' Bashir Uddin Laskar by 22,959 votes in Assam.
AIUDF President Badruddin Ajmal's son Abdur Rahim Ajmal retained the seat polling 62,153 votes.
The ruling Congress retained Lakhipur seat as its candidate Rajdeep Goala defeated his nearest BJP rival Sanjay Thakur by 9172 votes garnering 40,090 votes, while Thakur got 30918 votes.
In Silchar, however, BJP's Dilip Kumar Paul is ahead of Arun Dutta Majumdar of Congress.
Telugu Desam Party's Tangirala Sowmya won the Nandigama Assembly bypoll in Andhra Pradesh by 74,827 votes.
Riding on the sympathy wave, Sowmya, a software engineer, got 99,748 votes. The by-election was necessitated following the death of Sowmya's father due to a cardiac arrest.
CPI-M candidate Prabhat Chowdhury trounced his nearest INC candidate Mailafru Mog in Manu (ST) constituency in Tripura. The constituency fell vacant after former Idustries and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chowdhury was elected to the Lok Sabha.