All day on Thursday, much of the focus was on the Bandra (East) constituency, a suave urban seat in the middle of Mumbai in which a major by-election was being fought. To an extent, the limelight could be justified as it was a battle of redemption of sorts for former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane who fought on a Congress ticket. And yes, he lost. The battle was also closely-watched thanks to the Sena’s fierce attempts to retain the constituency, which is also home to Matoshree — residence of Uddhav Thackeray.
But amidst all the clamour in Bandra, two other important by-poll results were overlooked.
In the by-election to Bhagwanpur (SC) in Uttarakhand, the Congress emerged victorious. But here’s why the win was important for the party. The result marked the first time the Congress went past the half-way mark in the state Assembly and secured a majority on its own. For the past three years, the Harish Rawat government was holding onto power in the state with much help from its allies. In the 2012 elections, the Congress had won 32 seats, closely followed by the BJP with 31 seats. With the help of allies, the Congress went on to form the government but there was always a danger of a fall. After the victory in Bhagwanpur, Rawat can finally heave a sigh of relief.
The other critical bypoll result, largely unnoticed, happened in Dhuri in Punjab. Similar to Uttarakhand, the victory in Dhuri in Sangrur district for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal will be sweet for the party as it now has a commanding majority in the state Assembly. Even though the SAD’s alliance with the BJP has always had majority, the Dhuri victory will give the SAD renewed confidence that it does not have anything to fear from an ally, that has asserted itself in recent times. Local BJP leaders have often talked of the party going it alone in the 2017 elections. The SAD now has 59 seats in the 117-member state Assembly while the BJP has 12 seats.