SP, Cong suffer blows in UP, Karnataka; BJP wrests M'nagar

SP, Cong suffer blows in UP, Karnataka; BJP wrests M'nagar

The BJP and its allies today made gains in the Assembly bye-elections winning seven of the 12 seats in eight states when the party inflicted blows on ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Congress in Karnataka.

BJP won the communally sensitive and politically significant Muzaffarnagar seat in UP where SP lost two of the three seats, one of which to Congress in Deoband. The Congress was jolted in Karnataka where it lost two of the three seats on offer. The BJP bagged two.

The party also snatched the Maihar seat in Madhya Pradesh from Congress, months after suffering a defeat at its hands in the Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha bypoll.

In the other four states, ruling parties--BJP and its allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal as also TRS and CPI (M)--won in the by-elections for a lone seat in Maharashtra, Punjab, Telangana and Tripura respectively.

Uttar Pradesh, which is headed for Assembly elections next year, handed out a drubbing for the Akhilesh Yadav government when SP lost in Muzaffarnagar and Deoband. The party, however, retained the Bikapur seat.

Muzaffarnagar, where BJP's Kapil Dev Agarwal defeated SP's Gaurav Swarup by margin of 7,352 votes, is considered a test case for the saffron party which had mounted a strident campaign on Hindutva issues ever since the communal riots of 2013 there.

Western UP, of which Muzaffarnagar is a part, has seen the saffron party and its affiliates playing the Hindutva card to the hilt and attacking the Akhilesh Yadav government over its vote bank politics aimed allegedly at appeasing Muslims.

In Deoband, the seat of Islamic religious school, Darul Uloom, Congress worsted SP when its candidate Mavia Ali defeated Meena Rana. SP managed to retain Bikapur (Faizabad) seat when its candidate Anand Sen Yadav defeated RLD candidate Munna Singh Chauhan.

Opposition BJP in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due in 2018, got the better of the ruling Congress in a virtual direct fight when it retained Hebbal seat in Bangalore. But the two parties snatched each other's seat in Devadurga and Bidar.

The results in Karnataka are seen as a blow to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah considering the fact that the Congress had invested heavily in the contest to wrest seats from BJP.

The Congress casualty in Karnataka included C K Abdul Rahman Sharief, grand son of former Railway Minister C K Jaffer Sharief, who lost to BJP's Y A Narayanaswamy by margin of 19,149 votes in Hebbal.

Sharief was given the ticket at the last minute against the wishes of Siddaramaiah who had plumped for his favourite Byrathi Suresh, an MLC, as the candidate.

In Bidar, Congress' Rahim Khan triumphed by a margin of 22,721 votes, defeating his closest opponent Prakash Khandre of BJP.

K Shivana Gouda Nayak of BJP defeated A Rajashekhra Nayak of Congress by a margin of 16,871 votes in Devadurga.

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