A year ahead of state elections, the Congress dealt a blow to the ruling BJP in Himachal Pradesh, sweeping all three Assembly seats and the Lok Sabha constituency of Mandi in byelections that took place on October 30.
The BJP strengthened its control over Assam, winning, along with NDA ally United People’s Party, Liberal, (UPPL) all five Assembly seats for which byelections were held.
The BJP also won two of the three byelections to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, and the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress continued its triumphant march, winning all four Assembly byelections by huge margins.
Two of these seats had been won by the BJP in the Assembly elections of April-May, but had been given up by the winning candidates who had chosen to retain their seats in Lok Sabha.
Byelections were held for three Lok Sabha and 29 Assembly seats in 14 states across the country on October 30, counting for which was held on Tuesday.
A seat in the Nagaland Assembly was filled without contest.
The BJP won seven of the 29 state Assembly seats for which elections were held, and its allies, the UPPL in Assam and JD(U) in Bihar, won two seats each. The Congress, which fought alone, won eight of the 29 Assembly seats.
Of the remaining 10 seats, the TMC won four, the NPP in Meghalaya two, and INLD (Haryana), YSRCP (Andhra Pradesh), MNF (Mizoram), and UDP (Meghalaya) a seat each.
In Lok Sabha, the BJP and Congress won a seat each from the three for which byelections were held. The Shiv Sena won the third — Kalaben Delkar defeated the BJP’s Mahesh Gavit by an impressive margin of over 51,000 at the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu seat bordering Gujarat.
In Rajasthan, where byelections were held for two Assembly seats, the BJP failed to capitalise on the factional fight in the state Congress.
In Vallabhnagar, the party could manage only the fourth position, trailing the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party and an Independent; it came in third at Dhariawad. The Congress won both seats.
In Madhya Pradesh, despite a vigorous campaign led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP lost the Raigaon seat, where the byelection was brought on by the death of the sitting BJP MLA.
However, the BJP won Jobat and Prithvipur, seats that went to the Congress in the 2018 elections. The BJP also retained the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat, which it had won in 2014 and 2019.
In Karnataka, the BJP won Sindgi, but lost the Hangal seat in Haveri, the home district of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai.
The Congress retained the Deglur (SC) constituency in Maharashtra by an impressive margin of almost 42,000 votes.
In Haryana’s Ellenabad, Abhay Singh Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal won. The Congress candidate came in third behind the BJP’s — a cause for concern given the Congress had supported the farmers’ agitation from day 1.
Also, the margin of Chautala’s victory was only 6,739 votes, raising some questions about the depth and breadth of the anger against the BJP.
In Telangana’s Huzurabad, the BJP won a very significant victory — former health minister Eatala Rajender, who defected from the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi in June, defeating the candidate of his former party by a comfortable margin of almost 24,000 votes.
In Badvel (SC) seat in Andhra Pradesh, the YSRCP won comfortably, defeating the BJP candidate.
In Bihar, the JD(U) retained both the Tarapur and Kusheshwar Asthan seats, defeating RJD candidates.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tweeted that the “people have given their decision”; Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav said the RJD had improved its performance while fighting against a coalition of five ruling parties.
Ten of the 29 Assembly seats were with the Congress before the October 30 byelections — two more than the party’s tally on Tuesday.
Two Assam seats — Mariani and Thowra — were with the Congress; it lost both. It also lost the Jobat and Prithvipur seats in Madhya Pradesh, even though it did win Raigaon. In Meghalaya, it lost both the Rajabala and Mawphlang seats.
However, Dhariawad in Rajasthan was a gain for the party, as was Jubbal Kotkhai in Himachal. The Congress gained a seat in Karnataka as well.
Himachal Pradesh brought the Congress cheer; besides taking Jubbal Kotkhai from the BJP, it retained Arki — represented by the late former chief minister Virbhadra Singh — and Fatehpur. Virbhadra’s wife Pratibha Singh won the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, home turf of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The BJP expressed disappointment with the results in Himachal Pradesh. “It is a wake up call for the party and its workers. We have to go deep into it as the state is facing Assembly polls next year,” senior BJP leader P Muralidhar Rao said.
Rao, however, claimed that the party is on the ascendant in Madhya Pradesh. “You will see it in the future also. We have corrected the gaps and fixed our problems. Both in governance and in the organisation, you will see BJP’s upward swing in Madhya Pradesh,” Rao, who is in charge of the BJP in the state, said.
The BJP’s performance in Madhya Pradesh also brings credit to Chouhan, who is the last incumbent Chief Minister from the BJP’s earlier generation of leaders. The new leadership’s handpicked Chief Ministers Thakur and Bommai could not match expectations. The byelection results in Madhya Pradesh have consolidated Chouhan’s position, and will possibly discourage attempts at a change of guard in the state.
“The BJP and its allies have increased their tally in the state Assemblies. Our votes, spread, and seats have increased,” BJP Rajya Sabha MP and head of national media cell Anil Baluni said.
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