It is Advantage BJP in the Assembly bypolls in eight states. The party won five out of the ten seats, up from three as it snatched one seat each from AAP in Delhi and BSP in Rajasthan, and stunned everyone coming second in the lone seat in West Bengal with a massive increase in vote share.
The big surprise was in Delhi where the ruling AAP was pushed to the third place, days ahead of the crucial municipal corporation elections. Congress retained the three seats it had and much to its relief came second in Delhi, but could not win the lone seat in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh.
There was good news from election-bound Karnataka though for the Congress as it won both the seats with increased victory margins. While there were worrying signals for the BJP in Karnataka, the BJP victory in Bhoranj seat in Himachal Pradesh would be a wake-up call for Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh who is battling corruption charges. The bypolls in Karnataka and Himachal were seen as a precursor to Assembly elections due later this year.
The upset victory came in Delhi where the Aam Aadmi Party lost Rajouri Garden, a seat won by it in 2015 by a margin of 10036 votes. The outcome assume huge political significance as municipal corporation elections are just ten days away. The AAP’s vote share plunged from 46.55 per cent to 13.12 per cent. BJP increased its 38.04 vote share to 51.99 per cent. BJP’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa won by a margin of 14652 votes. The seat was vacated by Jarnail Singh who unsuccessfully fought against Parkash Singh Badal in Punjab.
Congress’s A Meenakshi Chandela came second as the party increased its vote share of 12 per cent to 33.23 per cent. “AAP’s loss is our gain,” AICC general secretary in charge of Delhi P C Chacko told The Indian Express. AAP’s votes plunged from 54916 to 10243, a loss of 44673 votes. “AAP phenomenon was a temporary phenomenon. Once and for all that is finished. In the MCD elections, it is going to be a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP,” Chacko said.
The other surprise outcome came in Kanthi Dakshin seat in West Bengal. While the Trinamool Congress retained the seat and increased its vote share and victory margin, the BJP stunned everyone finishing second. TMC vote share increased from 53.72 per cent to 55.89 per cent. The BJP vote share, which was a meager 8.76 per cent, jumped to 30.97. It had got 15223 votes last time. Today, it ended up with 52843 votes.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however said, “Who will be in the second or third position is not my concern. That people have again extended their support to us shows that they have liked our work. So we have to continue our work in a more humble manner.”
The BJP’s surprise increase seems to be at the expense of the Left. The CPI, which bagged 59,469 votes and came second with a vote share of 34.22 per cent last time, was pushed to the third place. Its candidate got a mere 17,423 votes and a vote share of 10.21 per cent. The Congress, which was an also ran, remained so, as its candidate got just 2270 votes.
The Congress victory in Nanjangud in Karnataka was sweet revenge for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The election was held after sitting Congress MLA V Srinivasa Prasad quit the party over differences with the Chief Minister. He later joined the BJP.
Prasad, who had won the seat for the Congress with a margin of 8941 votes, was defeated today by a margin of 21334 votes. The Congress also triumphed in Gundlupet seat also where its candidate Geetha Mahadeva, the widow of late minister H C Mahadeva Prasad, defeated the BJP by over 10,000 votes.
Although the BJP is weak in Southern Karnataka, its state chief BS Yeddyurappa had camped in both the seats making it a prestige battle. With Srinivasa Prasad leaving the party after he was dropped from the cabinet, Siddaramaiah had roped in Kalale N Keshavamurthy from the JD(S). He was the JD(S) candidate last time. Nanjangud was a defector versus defector contest and the Congress won. The by-elections were to set the tone for the Assembly elections scheduled in November-December.
The BJP victory in Bhoranj seat has come as a setback to the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh where, like Karnataka, Assembly elections are due in November-December. The victory margin of BJP’s Anil Dhiman was just around 2000 less than that of his late father Ishwar Dass Dhiman in 2012.
The BJP’s victory in Dholpur seat in Rajasthan was also creditable. It had come third in the last Assembly election. Its vote share saw a massive jump from 26.82 per cent to 61.79 per cent. The Congress too increased its vote share from 30.87 to 35.69 per cent but its candidate Banwari Lal Sharma lost to BJP’s Shobha Rani Kushavah by a margin of over 38,000 votes. The BJP also retained the Dehmaji seat in Assam, although with a reduced margin.
Like Rajasthan, Assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh next year. There were no surprises though. Both the Congress and the BJP retained their respective seats – Congress with a hugely reduced margin. Congress’s Hemant Katare won from Ater by a margin of 857 votes. His father, the late leader of the Opposition
Satyadev Katare, had won the seat by a margin of 11426 seats.
The BJP increased its vote share from 30 per cent to 47.31 per cent. On the other hand, the BJP increased in vote share and victory margin in Bandhavgarh. Its vote share increased from 46.57 per cent to 54.95 per cent.
The JMM retained Jharkhand’s Littipara seat. Its candidate Simon Marandi defeated BJP’s Hemlal Murmu by 12900 votes. Marandi was the BJP candidate from the seat last time. Here also, the BJP increased its vote share from 28.78 per cent to 37.26 per cent. The JMM vote share too increased but marginally, from 45.93 to 46.39 per cent.