Nothing much for BJP to cheer in bypoll results

BJP Workers celebrates their victory in Maharashtra Assembly elections, in Kolkata, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (PTI Photo)

There is nothing much for the BJP to cheer about the Assembly and Lok Sabha bypolls held in 18 states as the saffron party suffered setbacks in its strongholds Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, where it had swept the Lok Sabha elections held five months ago.

BJP held 20 seats which went to bypolls across the country but it managed to win only 17 while a beleaguered Congress managed to win 12 seats, the same number of its sitting seats.

The bypoll results add more woes to the saffron party as its high profile 'turncoat' candidates Alpesh Thakore and Dhavalsinh Zala, who defected from Congress, lost their electoral battle. BJP's attempt to wrest a Lok Sabha seat held by NCP by engineering the defection of Udyanraje Bhonsle within three months of his victory to its side also fell flat as he lost the Satara Lok Sabha bypolls to the Sharad Pawar-led party.

Congress, which had an impressive show in the 2017 Assembly polls but was routed in the Lok Sabha polls, managed to win three out of six seats that went to bypolls in Gujarat, including those of the two defectors in what was touted as a prestige battle. It also managed to wrest one seat from the BJP, which could win only three out of the four sitting seats, in the state.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won seven seats as against eight sitting seats while its ally Apna Dal (Sonewal) retained one. Samajwadi Party improved its tally winning two and BSP got one in the 11 seats that went to bypolls in the state.

The loss of one seat could reflection on the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whose style of functioning has come under criticism, while an analysis showed that BJP managed to win Zaidpur and Ghosi in a tight contest. A consolidation of Opposition votes could have changed the contours of the elections.

Indicating trouble for the JD(U)-BJP government in Bihar that will go to polls in another one year, the JD(U) could win only one out of five seats that went to bypolls while its arch-rival RJD registered a come back winning two seats. Congress lost its sitting seat Kishanganj to AIMIM, which opened its account in Bihar, while a BJP rebel who contested as an independent defeated JD(U) candidate from Daraundha.

Though other BJP ruling states upset the party, Himachal Pradesh returned two saffron party members as MLAs in bypolls. In Sikkim, it won two seats for the first time after engineering defections in Pawan Chamling-led Sikkim Democratic Front.

BJP also lost its sitting seat of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh to Congress, strengthening the hands of Chief Minister Kamalnath, who runs his government on razer-thin majority. Similarly in Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot-led government also got a boost as it managed to wrest Mandawa from BJP though it lost in Khinwsar where Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) retained its seat.

For Congress, the best performance was from Punjab where Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's leadership led to Congress winning three out of four seats as against holding a single sitting seat. Adding insult to the main Opposition Akali Dal, Congress managed defeat its rival candidate in Jalalabad, which was vacated by Sukhbir Singh Badal after winning Lok Sabha polls. The fourth seat was won by Akali Dal which was held by AAP, which polled just 2.13% votes this time.

Like other Congress chief ministers, Chhattisgarh's Bhupesh Bhagal managed to ensure his party's victory in Chitrakot.

However, Congress lost two sitting seats in Kerala to CPI(M) though it managed to wrest one from the Left party. In the final tally, Congress and CPI(M) won two each in Kerala while the fifth one went to Muslim League.

In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK upset both Congress and DMK, which had done spectacularly in the Lok Sabha polls, by wresting their two sitting seats. Congress also retained one seat in nearby Puducherry.

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