The BJP’s bypoll win in four of the six seats it contested has invigorated the party ahead of assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. It has given tough competition to erstwhile ally Nitish Kumar’s Grand Alliance in Bihar and ended the BJD’s winning run in Odisha.
The Congress drew a blank in the seven assembly constituencies — Adampur, Gola Gokarannath, Dhamnagar, Andheri (East), Mokama, Gopalganj and Munugode — in six states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Odisha and Telangana that went to polls on November 3. The results were declared on Sunday.
While the TRS managed to get a foothold by winning the high-stakes bypoll to Munugode Assembly constituency, it had to overcome a spirited challenge from the BJP.
The bypoll assumed immense political significance as it was seen as a virtual semi-final ahead of next year’s Legislative Assembly polls in Telangana.
The TRS, recently renamed as Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), took it as a prestige issue as a loss would have dented its plans to go national.
In Maharashtra, Rutuja Latke, the candidate of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), won the by-election to Andheri (East) in Mumbai, the seat earlier represented by her deceased husband, after major parties including the BJP did not field candidates. The second-highest number of votes (14.79 per cent) went to the None Of The Above (NOTA) option in the constituency.
The BJP said the result of the November 3 by-election was a stamp of approval by people on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies as it retained Gola Gokarannath in Uttar Pradesh, Dhamnagar in Odisha and Gopalganj in Bihar where it had fielded the kin of its party MLAs whose death necessitated the polls.
In Haryana, BJP candidate and former chief minister Bhajan Lal’s grandson Bhavya Bishnoi defeated his nearest rival and Congress nominee Jai Prakash in Haryana’s Adampur by a margin of around 16,000 votes, maintaining the family’s winning streak.
Candidates of AAP and INLD lost their deposits as they failed to secure one-sixth of the votes polled.
The resignation of Bhavya’s father Kuldeep Bishnoi necessitated the by-election after he left the Congress and joined the BJP.
The Adampur seat has been held by the Bhajan Lal’s family since 1968, with the late leader representing it on nine occasions, his wife Jasma Devi once and Kuldeep on four occasions.
In Bihar, the RJD saw its victory margin fall in Mokama and it fell short of a win in party president Lalu Prasad’s home district of Gopalganj, which the BJP retained, albeit by the skin of its teeth.
It was the first electoral test for the Nitish Kumar-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (RJD-JDU-Cong) government, formed less than three months ago after the JD(U) parted ways with the BJP.
RJD candidate Neelam Devi won in Mokama by more than 16,000 votes. The bypoll was necessitated after the disqualification of her husband MLA Anant Kumar Singh.
The BJP contested from the constituency for the first time as the saffron party had, on previous occasions, left the seat to its allies.
BJP’s Kusum Devi, the wife of MLA Subhash Singh whose death had necessitated the by-election in Gopalganj, polled 70,032 votes, while RJD’s Mohan Gupta got 68,243.
Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM polled more than 12,000 votes, emerging as the biggest “spoiler” for the ruling alliance. Bihar Congress spokesperson Asit Tiwari accused Owaisi of helping the BJP win.
The AIMIM had won five seats in the last assembly polls and all but one of its MLAs joined the RJD.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said the decrease in the BJP’s victory margin was a “success” for them and their alliance will win in 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
BJP chief J P Nadda said, “Despite all the opposition forces coming together, the people have put their stamp on the development-oriented leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. It is clear from this that the faith of the people of Bihar is with the BJP”.
He said the victory in Gola Gokarannath in Uttar Pradesh and Adampur reflects the public support for the double-engine BJP governments.
BJP’s Aman Giri defeated his nearest rival and Samajwadi Party candidate by over 34,000 votes in the UP seat that fell vacant after the death of his father and party MLA Arvind Giri on September 6.
With the BSP and the Congress keeping away, it was a direct contest between Aman Giri and Tiwari. The BJP’s campaign was led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while SP chief Akhilesh Yadav did not campaign.
Yadav on Sunday accused the BJP government of using illegal means in the election and said it had defeated democracy in the assembly seat. By securing over 90,000 votes, the SP candidate has challenged the BJP, he claimed.
Gola Gokarannath is part of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra’s Lok Sabha constituency Lakhimpur Kheri.
Adityanath congratulated BJP workers. “This spectacular victory is a symbol of the unwavering faith of people in the public welfare policies of the double-engine BJP government,” Adityanath said in a tweet in Hindi.
Telanaga saw a keenly-fought contest with the TRS (now renamed Bharat Rashtra Samithi) candidate Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy defeating his nearest BJP rival Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy in Munugode by over 10,000 votes. The Congress nominee Palvai Sravanthi was a distant third.
Komatireddy Raj Gopal Reddy had sought re-election on a BJP ticket after quitting the Congress.
”Thanks to the people of Munugodu for reposing faith in TRS party & Hon’ble CM KCR’s leadership.’As promised, will adopt the constituency and work towards expeditious progress of pending works,” state minister and KCR’s son K T Rama Rao tweeted.
In Odisha’s Dhamnagar, BJP’s Suryabanshi Suraj defeated ruling BJD’s Abanti Das by a margin of 9,881 votes, an Election Commission official said.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Surja’s father and BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi in September.
Besides retaining the seat, the saffron party ended the ruling BJD’s winning run in by-polls since 2019 when it came to power for the fifth consecutive term in the state.
While BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the result was expected , senior BJP leader and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan asserted that the result reflects people’s trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
We have lost very few by-elections. I always respect the verdict of the people. MLA Bishnu Sethi died recently and he was quite popular. BJP held the seat for a number of years. His son was given the ticket. It was expected that they would win, the chief minister said.
Maharashtra saw its first electoral contest after the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government collapsed in June following a revolt by a section of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde.
Thackeray said the victory showed that people were supporting his Shiv Sena.
“This is just the beginning of a fight. The (party) symbol is important but people look for the character too. The bypoll results show people support us,” Thackeray told reporters at his residence on Sunday.
“Our party’s name and symbol were frozen for this election, but those who wanted this are nowhere near the electoral ring,” Thackeray said in a veiled swipe at the faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.