BJP cannot take the Opposition unity lightly in the run-up to the 2019 general elections and it will have to chalk out an out-ofthe-box strategy for another term.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a setback on 31 May 2018 after results from byelections to four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly constituencies showed that it managed to win only one parliamentary and one assembly seat, with a united opposition making inroads.
The BJP lost the crucial Kairana constituency in Uttar Pradesh to a combined opposition of Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress. This is its third byelection loss to a united opposition after Gorakhpur and Phulpur in March this year.
In Kairana, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)candidate Tabassum Hasan defeated BJP candidate Mriganka Singh by a huge margin of votes in the crucial Uttar Pradesh byelection.
The RLD candidate, who handed the BJP its most humiliating defeat after Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, was supported by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. She also got the support from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The BJP’s defeat in Kairana will be a major boost for the Opposition’s unity ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh later this year.
Bypolls cannot be the barometer of who will win the next Lok Sabha- law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Making light of these losses, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said bypolls cannot be the barometer of who will win the next Lok Sabha. Union home minister Rajnath Singh said one has to take a few steps back to make a big leap ahead.
BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao says:
“In bypolls, local issues, caste and the candidate take precedence over national issues. The outcome won’t have any impact on government in states and the Centre.” Another BJP leader said pan-India factors will determine the winner of next Lok Sabha polls. “The more the Opposition makes noises as it did at the Karnataka CM swearing-in, and make it a Modi versus the rest contest, the better it is for us,” the leader claimed.
In Maharashtra, Palghar, BJP’s Rajendra Gavit won the seat, defeating Shiv Sena’s Shrinivas Wanaga. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, however, alleged “discrepancies” in counting of votes for Palghar.
In Nagaland, the fourth LS seat for which bypoll was held on Monday, went to BJP’s ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). While the LS bypoll results were equally divided at 2-2 between the BJP-led alliance and the opposition parties, figures for the 10 assembly bypolls came as a big setback for the ruling party which could win just one (in Uttarakhand).
The Congress bagged three (in Meghalaya, Karnataka, and Punjab) and others got six — JMM two in Jharkhand; CPI (M), SP, RJD and Trinamool one each in Kerala, UP, Bihar and West Bengal, respectively.
The biggest shock for the BJP came from Kairana, which BJP had won in 2014 with a huge majority.
It is strike three for the party against the opposition after it lost its strongholds Gorakhpur and Phulpur to the Samajwadi Party-Mayawati combo in March. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said the victory in Kairana and assembly seat Noorpur was a win for the farmers, the neglected, the poor and the Dalits. ” I also thank all other political leaders who came together and stood together to ensure that we win,” he said.
If the Kairana bypoll was a teaser, the 2019 mega election promises to be an interesting contest.