Bypolls: message for BJP, opposition

Though by-elections do not generally give an indication of the ruling political mood at the state or national levels, the results of a string of by-elections held across the country this week have pointed to a national trend, and that is against the BJP. It won only one out of the four Lok Sabha seats and again only one out of the 11 Assembly seats for which elections were held. It is a serious setback for a party that rules at the Centre with a clear majority and has governments in 21 states. With less than a year to go for the general election, the results have sent out the message that the BJP is very vulnerable. At the same time, they will give a lot of strength and confidence to the opposition. Different parties won the elections for seats in different states, but wherever the opposition parties stood united and fought together, they defeated the BJP. 

The defeat of the BJP by the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in the crucial Kairana Lok Sabha seat in UP demonstrated this clearly. The Kairana election was considered as an important test for the viability and potential of an alliance among opposition parties. The defeat of the BJP in the recent by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur had exposed the party’s weakness against a combined opposition. This has again been proved in Kairana. Opposition parties will now be encouraged to go in for an alliance against the BJP at the national level in the 2019 elections, and to take forward the unity and purpose that they displayed at the swearing in of the JD(S)-Congress government in Bengaluru last month. The BJP also lost the Noorpur Assembly seat in UP to the SP, which was supported by other opposition parties. It lost the Bhandara Gondia seat in Maharashtra, too, which it had held, to the NCP. The only Lok Sabha seat the BJP won was Palghar in Maharashtra where, ironically it beat its own ally Shiv Sena, and where the opposition votes were divided. The BJP’s ally NDPP retained a Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland. 

The results of the by-elections to Assembly seats should also cause concern to the party. The loss of Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), the BJP’s ally, in its traditional seat in Jokihat to Lalu Yadav’s RJD will cause special worry. Parties opposed to the BJP won all the Assembly by-election contests, except one in Uttarakhand. The Congress will be especially pleased with its handsome win in the Rajarajeshwarinagar seat in Bengaluru. There may be many challenges before the opposition parties when they try to come together, but the spate of by-election results show what they can do if they stick together. 

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Bypolls: message for BJP, opposition

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