BJP's bypoll blues: Roads for regional parties open

BJP's bypoll blues: Roads for regional parties open

Samajwadi Party workers celebrate their party's success in Uttar Pradesh by-elections, outside their party office in Lucknow, on Thursday. PTI

The results of the by-polls in four Lok Sabha seats and 10 Assembly seats on Thursday are definitely discomforting for the BJP as they send an unambiguous message that in its focus on a Congress-Mukta Bharat, the ruling party somehow failed to notice the might of regional parties.

This may pose a serious challenge to the saffron party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Kairana in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra won by the BJP in 2014, have now been wrested from it by two regional parties — the Rashtriya Lok Dal and NCP, respectively.

The RLD candidate in Kairana was backed by the Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress, while in the former, the NCP-Congress was in alliance.

The challenge from Opposition regional parties come to the BJP as a double whammy at a time when some of its own regional allies are creating troubles for it.

Telugu Desam Party has already quit the NDA. Shiv Sena has been regularly putting it on notice.

The restlessness is also growing in the Nitish Kumar-led JDU, which had come back to NDA only last year.

Kumar's meetings with another NDA ally leader, Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party, are being watched keenly in Bihar.

Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samata Party is also sending out disturbing signals and a realignment of regional political forces in Bihar at a later stage cannot be ruled out.

Even as the BJP was grappling with the by-poll blues, JD (U) general secretary K C Tyagi put the blame on Centre for the losses, saying it happened as "people were angry over rising fuel prices".

The BJP, which had won 282 seats in 2014, is down by 9 and currently has 273 MPs.

It has lost eight seats in different Lok Sabha by-polls which it had won in 2014. Out of 27 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls after 2014, the BJP could win only in six.

2018, in particular, had been a bad year for the ruling party as it lost three Lok Sabha seats consecutively in Uttar Pradesh, where it had won 71 seats on its own in the last Lok Sabha polls.

Kairana falls in western Uttar Pradesh and was affected by communal fire in 2013 as the two dominant and hitherto peacefully communities, the Jaats and Muslims, fought bitterly.

RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan's win in Kairana shows signs of an aversion to polarisation politics.

In March, BJP lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats won in 2014 by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya. This, too, pointed to a fatigue factor and the saffron losing out in political arithmetic to the combined Opposition.

In the 2015 Assembly polls in Bihar, held just a year after BJP's stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha polls a year ago, the coming together of Lalu Prasad's RJD and Nitish Kumar's JD (U) with the Congress had seen the BJP biting the dust.

The challenge of the regional forces apart, the BJP is also staring at a possible revival of the Congress, which won two Lok Sabha by-polls in February in Alwar and Ajmer in Rajasthan, where the BJP had won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.

The upcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will show to what extent the Congress is reviving.

The BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for last three terms.