Bypoll results send out mixed signals to political parties

While by-elections are generally won by ruling parties, the BJP lost one seat in Jharkhand and another in MP. The BJP wrested one seat in Delhi even as Congress lost the by-election in Himachal

PTI photo
PTI photo

NH Political Bureau

Results of the 10 by-elections on Thursday sent out mixed messages to political parties. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged five of the 10 seats, it would be disappointed at losing the Ater seat to Congress in Madhya Pradesh and the Littipara seat to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in Jharkhand.

By-elections generally are won by the ruling parties. The loss of the Rajouri Garden seat in Delhi, where the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came a distant third, would have come as a rude shock to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal. Similarly, the loss of the by-election in Himachal Pradesh, where assembly elections are due this year, would have increased the worry of the Congress government of Virbhadra Singh.

The BJP lost the Kanthi seat in West Bengal by a substantial margin but would be happy to have secured over 30% of the vote. Its win in Assam and Rajasthan have also been comprehensive though Congress too would take some consolation from the fact that it polled 43% of the vote in the by-election in Assam.

With AAP's humiliating defeat in the Rajouri Garden bypoll, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia admitted that people were upset with the party over its legislator quitting to contest from Punjab.

For Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, it was a major sigh of relief to have won both the Nanjangud and Gundlupet constituencies in south Karnataka. This victory is seen as a major boost for the populist policies of Siddaramaiah.

The BJP, which had never won from these seats, tried hard to woo the voters by drafting former Congress leader S M Krishna to campaign and fielding a former Congress minister in one of the constituencies.

T.S.Sudhir wrote in, “It is also a signal that just by piggybacking on the Lingayat vote, the BJP cannot ride to the Vidhana Soudha in 2018. To be fair to the BJP, it has been on the lookout for big names belonging to non-Lingayat communities. It saw (Srinivas) Prasad as one such big Dalit catch. Former Chief minister SM Krishna, coming from the dominant Vokkaliga community, was another. But Krishna's failure to help the BJP win Nanjungud, which falls in his backyard of Mysuru-Mandya region, would make the BJP central leadership wonder if the Aaya Krishna Gaya Krishna strategy worked.”

He, however, cautioned that Congress would be making a mistake to take this trend for granted and think that this would last till next year’s assembly election.

In Jammu & Kashmir’s Budgam district, only 2.2% of the people came out to cast their vote. The repoll was ordered by the Election Commission in 38 polling stations as the bypoll on April 9 was marred by violence.

In West Bengal’s Kanthi Dakshin seat, Trinamool Congress managed to increase its victory margin from 33,890 votes in 2016 to 42,526 votes in this bypoll. “It was expected as people’s support towards Trinamool Congress and its chief Mamta Banerjee increased over the years. Both our vote share and number of votes have increased,” said winning candidate Chandrima Bhattacharya.

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