New Delhi/Bengaluru: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) upended the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the bypoll to a Delhi assembly seat, potentially heralding a keen contest ahead of the municipal polls in the state.
The party also won seats in Himachal Pradesh, ruled by the Congress, and Rajasthan, Assam, and Madhya Pradesh, where it is in power, aggregating five wins in 10 assembly seats across eight states, continuing its recent winning trend in elections. In the latest round, the BJP won four of the five states that went to polls.
The only silver lining for the Congress was winning two seats in poll-bound Karnataka. BJP and Congress retained Bandhavgarh and Ater seats in Madhya Pradesh, respectively. Regional parties, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) retained one seat each in West Bengal and Jharkhand .
The electoral outcome in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka are significant as the four will witness assembly polls within the next year-and-half, seeing a direct contest between the two parties.
“Impressive performance by BJP and NDA in the bypolls in different parts of the country. Congratulations to karyakartas (workers). I thank the people for the constant support, blessings and unwavering faith in politics of development and good governance,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Wednesday.
The big news was Delhi, where the BJP’s win is seen by some analysts as a blow to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. AAP’s Harjeet Singh came in third in the Rajouri Garden constituency after the Congress candidate and lost his deposit. The seat held by AAP fell vacant after its sitting MLA Jarnail Singh resigned last year to contest elections against former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in Punjab. He lost.
An AAP leader sought to play down the significance of the election.
“These were only by-elections; we will work harder in the upcoming polls and also try to convince the people of Rajouri Garden. We will show it in the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) polls,” senior AAP leader and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia told reporters after the result.
In West Bengal, while the TMC had an expected win in the Kanthi Dakshin bypoll, the BJP increased its vote share almost four-fold. In the 2016 assembly elections, BJP secured about 8% of votes polled, with TMC leading the chart with about 53% of the vote shared. The Left parties followed the TMC with a little over 34%. A year later, BJP has overtaken the CPI to emerge second with around 31% of the vote.
TMC leader Suvendu Adhikary described his party’s win as a people’s victory over the conspiracies against the TMC.
An analyst said that while the BJP has reason to be happy with the results, the real battle is ahead.
“Bypolls are not indicative of the outcome in an assembly poll, but it is also important that the BJP has defeated both AAP and Congress while retaining its own seats. It is interesting that BJP has done well in West Bengal,” said New Delhi-based political analyst Subrata Mukherjee, a former political science professor at Delhi University.
In Karnataka, Congress bagged both seats in the by-elections in Nanjangud and Gundlupet handing an embarrassing defeat to the BJP.
Backward classes leader and BJP candidate V. Srinivas Prasad lost to Congress candidate Kalale Keshavamurthy by 21,334 votes. In neighbouring Gundlupet constituency, Geetha Mahadev Prasad, wife of late H.S. Mahadev Prasad, had a lead of 10,877 votes against BJP’s C.S.Niranjan Kumar.
The hotly contested by-elections had turned into a prestige battle between chief minister Siddaramaiah and his predecessor and BJP state president B.S.Yeddyurappa with the former cementing his place as a mass leader.
Both parties increased their vote share considerably as Janata Dal (secular) did not contest the elections.
Congress increased their vote share in Nanjangud to 55.15% in the bypolls when compared to 36% in the 2013 assembly elections. The BJP registered a 41.5% vote share in the bypolls when compared to 5.02% in 2013. Prasad won on a Congress ticket in 2013.
In Gundlupet, Congress recorded a 51.59% of the vote share when compared to 45.42% in 2013. The BJP recorded 45.37% of the votes polled in Gundlupet as against 1.23% in 2013.