Updated: May 28, 2018 6:58:04 am
With the hullabaloo over the Karnataka assembly elections coming to an end, the scene now shifts to the bye-elections in four Lok Sabha seats and 10 assembly constituencies across nine states that will be held on Monday. Coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the Narendra Modi government, the bypolls will act as a weathervane of the mood of the voters ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
However, in the past four years, BJP has a poor track record in bye-elections and has lost six Lok Sabha seats, including in Yogi Adityanath’s bastion Gorakhpur. While emerging as the single largest party in Karnataka should come as a morale booster, despite not being able to form the government, BJP’s task is cut out as they face a united opposition this time and the outcome will reveal if regional parties together can combat the Modi wave in 2019.
Moreover, following the resignation of leaders BS Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu owing to them getting elected in the Karnataka assembly, BJP’s single-party majority status is under threat. Presently, BJP has 271 MPs in the Lok Sabha, down from 282 it won in 2014.
Elections will also be held at Karnataka’s RR Nagar constituency in what will be an early test for the Congress-JD(S) alliance even though the parties have not declared a joint candidate. The election to Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency on May 12 was deferred after 10,000 voter cards were found at a flat in the area. Counting for all the seats will take place on 31 May.
Arguably, the keenly watched contest will be the Lok Sabha bypolls to Kairana and Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress, BSP, SP and RLD have teamed up against the saffron party. The elections assume significance for BJP after the recent drubbing in the Gorakhpur and Phoolpur bypolls, where arch rivals SP tied up with the BSP. Kairana hit the national headlines before the 2017 UP assembly elections after its MP Hukum Singh raised the issue of Hindu exodus from the area. The bypoll has been necessitated following his death in February.
To cash in on the sympathy wave towards Singh’s family, the BJP has fielded his daughter Mriganka in Kairana, while RLD has nominated Tabassum Hasan, who has the support of the BSP, SP and Congress. With Lok Dal candidate Kanwar Hasan joining the RLD this week, it will virtually be a two-way contest. Consisting of 16 lakh voters, the constituency has 5.5 lakh Muslims and 2.5 lakh Dalits. And add to it the growing resentment among sugarcane farmers over non-payment of dues, BJP might have a bitter pill to swallow despite campaigning by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who raked up the 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots and the AMU Jinnah portrait controversy to target the opposition.
Like in Kairana, BSP and RLD have backed SP candidate Naim-ul-Hasan for the Noopur assembly bypolls, which has been necessitated following the death of BJP MLA Lokendra Singh Chouhan in a road accident in February. The saffron party has chosen Chouhan’s widow, Avani Singh, to fight the bypoll.
In Maharashtra’s Palghar, the state’s ruling party BJP and ally Shiv Sena are locked in a mouth-watering contest while NCP has declared its support for Congress. The seat fell vacant due to the sudden demise of sitting BJP MP Chintaman Wanga and Shiv Sena has given a ticket to his son Shriniwas to tap into the voter’s sentiment. BJP has, in-turn, nominated Congress deserter Rajendra Gavit and the outcome of the bypoll will set the template for the 2019 elections, which the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has decided to contest alone. However, a significant North Indian and Gujarati population may just tilt the scales in favour of BJP.
In Bhandara-Gondia, BJP will lock horns with NCP after the Lok Sabha seat was vacated following the resignation of sitting BJP MP Nana Patole in December 2017, who later joined Congress. NCP has fielded Madhukar Kukde while the BJP has nominated Hemant Patle.
Known for its bipolar politics, Kerala’s Chengannur assembly seat in Alappuzha district will see a three-way contest this time between LDF, UDF and BJP. The bypoll was necessitated following the death of CPM MLA K K Ramachandran Nair in January this year due to illness and the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has gone all stops in campaigning for CPM candidate Saji Cherian. An erstwhile Congress stronghold, BJP has fielded national executive member P S Sreedharan Pillai in a constituency with a sizeable Nair population.
Coming to the eastern region, the five seats where Assembly bypolls will be held are Maheshtala in West Bengal, Gomia and Silli in Jharkhand, Jokihat in Bihar and Ampati in Meghalaya. Bye-elections will also be held in the lone Nagaland Lok Sabha seat that was necessitated after the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader Neiphiu Rio, now CM of Nagaland, resigned as a Lok Sabha member in February.
Bye-elections are also due in Uttarakhand’s Tharali, which was necessitated by the death of sitting BJP MLA Magan Lal Shah in February from swine flu. Shahkot constituency in Punjab will see a three-way contest between AAP, SAD and Congress. Necessitated by the death of Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Ajit Singh Kohar in February, the bypolls to Shahkot has seen A-listers Captain Amarinder Singh and Sukhbir Badal holding roadshows. The Akali Dal has nominated Ajit’s son, Naib Singh Kohar, as its candidate for the bypoll. Congress, which will be banking on farm loan waivers and employment generation schemes to wrest the seat from SAD, has nominated Hardev Singh Laddi, who had lost to Ajit in 2017.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines