Bypolls put BJP on backfoot

KPCC President Dinesh Gundurao, AICC General Secretary Karnataka in-charge K C Venugopal and party leaders show victory sign after Congress-JD (S) won the by-poll election in Bengaluru, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (PTI Photo)

The results of by-elections in three LS and two assembly seats of Karnataka deepen the impression that all is not well for the ruling party as it inches close to the next general elections.

Alliances have in particular done the BJP in. After the successive defeats, BJP’s tally is down to 272 from 282 that it had won in 2014, while the Congress tally is up by six to touch 50 from the 44 seats it had won.

The main Opposition party is, however, still five short of 55, the minimum 10 % of 545 seats required to clinch Leader of Opposition status in the House.

Six months before a Congress-JDS alliance in Karnataka won four of five seats that went to by-polls — two Lok Sabha and two assembly seats, the BJP had tasted a similar defeat in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh in May this year when principal opposition parties in the state, SP and BSP, besides Congress chose to rally behind RLD’s Muslim candidate.

BJP lost its stronghold, then represented by votary of hardline Hindutva Hukum Singh. His daughter Mrigangka Singh lost to RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan in the constituency in Western UP, which was singed by Jat-Muslim communal clashes in 2013, months before 2014 LS polls in which BJP romped home.

Prior to Kairana, when SP and BSP came together, BJP lost Lok Sabha bypolls in March from Gorakhpur and Phulpur.

Like the three successive losses of Lok Sabha seats in UP, where it had won 71 out of 80 seats, even in Karnataka the 2:1 results in Lok Sabha bypolls came from BJP even as it had won 17 out of 28 seats in 2014.

A broad trend is being noticed everywhere. Wherever two strong political forces join, BJP is finding the going tough be it the Ganga belt or Cauvery state.

Even in Maharashtra, while it retained Palgarh Lok Sabha seat as the contests turned triangular, it lost Bhandara-Gondiya where Congress and NCP’s alliance candidate won. Elections were held for both seats in May this year.

BJP's bane

Be it JDS in Karnataka, NCP in Maharashtra, SP and RLD in Uttar Pradesh, regional parties are bringing down the tally of BJP, a trend which does not augur well before 2019 general elections.

BJP, which had won 282 seats in 2014, is down by 10 and currently has 272 MPs.

Out of 27 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls after 2014, the BJP could win only in six. In 2018 itself, it lost six Lok Sabha seats -- three in UP, two in Karnataka and one in Maharashtra.

Even Congress seems to be on revival mode but cannot halt the Narendra Modi-led juggernaut on its own. After having won two Lok Sabha seats in a by-poll in Rajasthan in February, it seems to have an upper hand even in assembly elections scheduled in December. In Chhattisgarh, BJP could breathe easy with the contest turning triangular after BJP and Ajit Jogi's Chhattisgarh Janata Congress joined hands. A real test of strength of  national parties Congress and BJP could be Madhya Pradesh, where there is a direct fight.

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Bypolls put BJP on backfoot

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