United Oppn scores big in bypolls, sets pace for 2019

Bringing cheers to the Opposition in an election year, the anti-BJP camp on Thursday won bypolls in 11 out of the 14 Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in ten states, including the crucial one in Uttar Pradesh's Kairana, and restricting the BJP and its NDA partners to just three.

In fine-print, the BJP lost three sitting seats -- two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seats -- while its allies JD(U) and Akali Dal lost one each sitting Assembly seat in the bypolls, which saw the Opposition vigorously testing their unity experiment and hoping to cement it ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The BJP won one each Lok Sabha (Palghar) and Assembly (Tharali, Uttarakhand) while its ally NDDP won the Nagaland Lok Sabha seat. On the other hand, Congress and its allies won two Lok Sabha and eight Assembly seats. CPI(M)'s bypoll victory in Kerala too added more power to the anti-BJP camp. If one takes the RR Nagar (Karnataka) results too, the numbers will go further up for the Congress.

The big win for the Opposition came in Kairana Lok Sabha seat where RLD's Tabassum Hassan trounced Mriganka Singh of BJP in its sitting seat by a whopping margin of 44,618 votes, riding on the support from Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress. In Noorpur Assembly seat too, the BJP lost to the joint opposition candidate Naeemul Hasan. 

The results indicated that the Opposition has managed to bring back Jats, who had vociferously supported the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, to the RLD fold in western UP. The results also come as setback for the BJP top leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah as well as UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, as this was the fourth consecutive bypoll loss in the state in last three months, the earlier two being Gorakhpur and Phulpur.

In Maharashtra, the NCP's Madhukar Kukade regained the Bhandara-Gondiya LS seat -- where NCP stalwart Praful Patel lost in 2014 polls -- from BJP's Hemant Patle by a margin of 37,603 votes. 

However, BJP retained Palghar LS seat where it was pitted against 'not-so-friendly' ally Shiv Sena, which had poached its late MP Chintaman Wanaga's son Shriniwas as its candidate. BJP fielded Congress leader Rajendra Gavit to emerge victorious while Congress was placed fifth behind the CPI(M). In Nagaland, NDA ally NDPP retained the seat.

The Assembly results also did not provide any succour to BJP or its allies. In Bihar's Jokihat, JD(U) lost its sitting seat to arch-rival RJD where the winner's victory margin was more than what the Nitish Kumar-led party had polled. The JD(U) was hoping to put the RJD's time-tested Muslim-Yadav electoral combination to test but the latter continued its impressive run in the recent bypolls.

Congress' Hardev Singh Ladi managed an impressive win in Punjab's Shahkot, considered a stronghold of Akali Dal, helping the state ruling party to touch 78 seats in a house of 117. 

Another crucial win for the Congress was in Meghalaya where former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma's daughter Miani D Shira retained her father's seat which he vacated after winning two seats in the March Assembly elections. With this, Congress has once again become the single largest party in the 60-member Assembly with 21 seats.

In other wins, JMM supported by UPA allies retained two of its sitting Assembly seats in Gomai and Silli. Interestingly, BJP had fielded a candidate against its ally AJSU in Gomai. 

A Trinamool Congress victory in West Bengal's Maheshtala was a foregone conclusion but the results showed that BJP has pushed the CPI(M) to a third position despite it having the Congress support. 

If BJP had something to cheer about in Bengal, the Chengannur bypoll in Kerala once again put the party in a spot as it could not manage to safeguard the votes it got in the 2016 Assembly polls.

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United Oppn scores big in bypolls, sets pace for 2019

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