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BJP’s by-poll drubbing

The defeat of BJP in just held parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar might not affect the balance of power in New Delhi but it certainly indicates the mood of the people ahead of next year’s general elections. The defeat in two parliamentary seats is more stunning. Only a year before, the BJP swept the assembly elections in the state, winning 325 of the 403 seats. It was almost a reiteration of 2014 parliamentary elections when BJP won 71 out of 80 seats in the state. The defeat if brutal loss of face for the chief minister Adityanath Yogi as one of the seats in which by-elections were held—Gorakhpor—is his pocket borough. Yogi, a poster boy of Hindu extremism—has won Gorakhpor parliamentary seat consecutively for five terms before the latest loss. The loss in Phupur constituency is another big blow as the seat was held by no less a heavyweight deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. Adityanath has just completed one year in office as chief minister of UP. In any political system, by-polls are usually won by the party in power. But BJP lost all the by-elections for nine parliamentary held since the party’s emphatic victory in 2014. Only last month, BJP lost three seats in its Rajasthan bastion. The party has now reduced from 282 to 273, just seats ahead of one-half mark. What stunned the political pundits more was the victory of RJD in Bihar. The RJD won the election in absence of the party chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is serving jail for conviction in fodder scam. It was his son TajshwiYadav who led his father’s party fight against BJP-JD (U) combine in the by-polls. Many political scientists had written off RJD after conviction of Lalu Prasad. Cases of corruption were slapped against other members of his family Tejishwi, who served as deputy chief minister during RJD-JD (U) rule. CBI conducted raids on their private properties and assets. Few had given them any chance in the elections. But the RJD’s win in the seat showed that Lalu’s traditional support-base the Muslim-Yadav-combine is intact. The defeat of the BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) has sounded alarm bells in the party ahead of the 2019 LokSabha elections. It has also stoked speculations about opposition parties stitching a united alliance to take on BJP. In UP by-polls, the SP victory could not have been possible without BSP support. BJP was taken off-guards when BSP declared support for SP candidates. For initial days of campaigning it was kept a discreet secret. It is only a three days before polling that BSP chief Mayawati publicly declared support for the SP. Quite at the same time when elections results were declared for UP and Bihar seats, another blow hit BJP in Andhra Pradesh. The state chief minister recalled his two ministers from BJP government at the centre. There is every likelihood of him breaking alliance with the BJP. The indication was there when he rang former chief minister and SP leader AkhileshYaday and BSP chief Mayawati over their win against BJP. West Bengal chief minister Mumta Banerjee also congratulated SP-BSP for victory against BJP. The outcome has brightened the prospects of the formation of a “mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) ahead of the 2019 elections to defeat the saffron party. At least, in UP a debate has sparked in political circles about continuing pact between the SP and the BSP till next years’ general elections. The real test of nerves would be in Karnatka, which is going to assembly election in June this. Karnataka is presently ruled by the Congress. BJP is turning every stone to dislodge Congress in the state. Congress has suffered stunning defeat at the hands of BJP in north east in recently held assembly elections. Congress, as a part of its strategy, has said that it was in touch with regional smaller parties in keep BJP away. Since parliamentary elections are exactly a year away, it is premature to speculate about the coming political scene. But the by-poll results have shown that no party is invincible.