Bypolls: Congress celebrates victories in Rajasthan, Trinamool in West Bengal

Trends from Rajasthan Lok Sabha bypolls in Ajmer and Alwar show a massive swing away from BJP since 2014; Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress is set to bag Uluberia LS and Noapara assembly seats in Bengal

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
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NH Political Bureau

With several rounds of counting still to go, Congress candidates are far ahead of BJP rivals in the two Rajasthan Lok Sabha seats Alwar and Ajmer which saw bypolls after the sitting BJP MPs passed away. The trends show a massive swing away from BJP. In 2014, BJP’s margin of victory in the Alwar Lok Sabha was over 2.8 lakh votes. The Congress candidate at the time had led in only 1 out of 8 assembly segments. Today, Congress candidate Dr Karan Singh Yadav is ahead by over 72,000 votes.

In Ajmer, BJP’s margin of victory in 2014 was over 1.7 lakh votes. BJP had led in all the 8 assembly segments. Four years later, Congress candidate Raghu Sharma is ahead of BJP’s Ramswaroop Lamba by over 45,000 votes. Former Congress chief minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot said today’s trends in Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha bypolls are a precursor not just to upcoming assembly but also Lok Sabha polls in Rajasthan, adding that the countdown to BJP’s loss has begun. Significantly, Alwar, which saw the killings of Pehlu Khan and Afrazul, and where the BJP candidate Jaswant Singh Yadav exhorted voters to vote for him if they are Hindu and for Congress if they are Muslim, shows no signs of returns on the communal polarisation strategy.

After trailing his BJP rival for most of the morning, at the time of writing, Congress candidate Vivek Dhakar is ahead of BJP’s Shakti Singh Hada by over 6,600 votes in the Mandalgarh assembly seat byelection, with just 3 rounds of counting to go at the time of writing. This, despite an expected sympathy wave for the sitting MLA Kirti Kumari who had passed away suddenly of swine flu, and a rebel Congress candidate bagging over 36,000 votes, is a pointer to the extent of anti-incumbency against the BJP government. The trends look set to prevail, giving Congress a score of 3-3 in Rajasthan, as predicted by Gehlot on January 1. This result will give sleepless nights not only to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, but BJP’s main election strategist Amit Shah and star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They can’t take victory in Rajasthan’s assembly elections—closely followed by the General Elections—later this year for granted. Today’s result heightens expectations that the BJP leadership could opt to bring forward the general elections to coincide with voting in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later in 2018.

Meanwhile in Bengal, the All India Trinamool Congress maintained its dominance, bagging the Noapara seat in the assembly bypoll. Mukul Roy, senior Trinamool leader who defected to BJP with much fanfare, has had no impact at all in this seat. Trinamool is also comfortably ahead in the Uluberia Lok Sabha bypoll. Sajda Ahmad, wife of Sultan Ahmad who was the sitting MP till his death necessitated the bypoll, was leading her nearest rival BJP by over a lakh votes. At the time of writing, the BJP candidate was in second place, CPI(M) in third and Congress in fourth place in both Noapara and Uluberia.

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Published: 01 Feb 2018, 1:15 PM