New Delhi: In results it admitted were not to its liking, the BJP suffered stunning reverses in by-elections in Bihar, exactly three months after it swept the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress scored gains both in Karnataka and Punjab but lost 1-2 to the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.
In the first pan-India popularity test after the May Lok Sabha verdict, the new alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Janata Dal-United and Congress shocked the BJP by winning six of the 10 assembly seats in Bihar. The Congress wrested Bhagalpur, an urban seat, from the Bharatiya Janata Party after a gap of 23 years.
In Karnataka, the ruling Congress wrested the prestigious Bellary reserved seat and retained the Chikkodi-Sadalga seat. The BJP won from Shikaripura in the August 21 by-elections held in four states.
In Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress won one seat each. The Aam Aadmi Party, which won four Lok Sabha seats, was defeated in both places.
The best news for the BJP came in Madhya Pradesh where its candidates won from Aagar and Vijayraghavgarh constituencies, while the Congress snatched Bahoriband from the BJP.
BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said here that the results were not to the party’s satisfaction but claimed they did not reflect the national mood.
“The results do not reflect the national mood. There were local issues and factors such as popularity of the candidate,” he said. He added that the results did not indicate a revival of the Congress which won only 44 seats — its worst ever showing — in the Lok Sabha battle.
The Congress was buoyant. “The BJP gave the impression that the Narendra Modi wave, which was based on false promises, will carry it through in the bypolls but unfortunately people did not vote as they expected,” Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said. “The results are a positive signal for the Congress,” he added.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar, both former chief ministers of Bihar, were jubilant. After the Lok Sabha disaster, they ended their animosity of two decades to take on the BJP. Lalu Prasad tweeted from Mumbai: “It seems people have corrected the wrong of the Lok Sabha polls.”
Nitish Kumar vowed to step up efforts to form a nationwide anti-BJP front.
RJD’s Ajay Kumar Bulganin won from Mohiuddinnagar by 21,530 votes. His colleagues Ramawatar Paswan was elected from Rajnagar by 3,448 votes while Randhir Kumar Singh won from Chapra by 24,106 votes.
JD-U’s Rishi Mishra made it to the assembly from Jale by 7,720 votes and Ramanand Prasad Singh won from Parbatta by 56,990 votes.
In Bhagalpur, Ajit Sharma of the Congress won by 17,000 votes.
The BJP’s Awadesh Singh won in Hajipur by 6,127 votes, Nirmal Ram (Mohania) by 19,851 votes, Rashmi Verma (Narkatiaganj) by 15,742 votes and Ram Narayan Mandal (Banka) scraped through by 711 votes.
Its ally, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party, was routed.
RJD leader Ashok Kumar Sinha said the results showed that the “magic of Lalu and Nitish has clicked and the Modi factor has failed”, referring to Prime Minister Modi.
N Y Gopalakrishna of the Congress trounced Obalesh (BJP) by 33,104 votes in Bellary, 330 km from Bangalore. He secured 83,906 and Obalesh 50,802. In Chikkodi-Sadalga, Ganesh Hukkeri of the Congress won by 31,820 votes defeating K M Mallikarjun of the BJP. In Shikaripura, B Y Raghavendra of the BJP defeated H S Shanthavirappa Gowda of the Congress by 6,430 votes to retain the seat.
Congress candidate and former union minister Preneet Kaur won from Patiala in Punjab, defeating Bhagwan Dass Juneja of the ruling Akali Dal by over 23,200 votes. Preneet Kaur is the wife of former chief minister Amarinder Singh, now a Lok Sabha member from Amritsar. Akali Dal’s Jeet Mohinder Singh won from Talwandi Sabo by over 46,600 votes, defeating Harminder Singh Jassi of the Congress.
In BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, BJP’s Sanjay Pathak defeated Brajendra Mishra of the Congress in Vijayraghavgarh by over 50,000 votes. Pathak was the outgoing Congress legislator who joined the BJP. In Aagar, BJP’s Gopal Parmar trounced Rajkumar Gore of the Congress by over 27,000 votes. Manohar Untwal vacated this seat after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Ujjain. The Congress hit back in Bahoriband where Sourabh Singh defeated BJP’s Pranav Pandey by over 7,000 votes.
BJP vows to win in Kashmir
Jammu: BJP president Amit Shah yesterday vowed to lead his party to victory in coming elections in Jammu and Kashmir, and asked Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to quit.
“I have come here to ensure public support to get 44 seats in the state assembly and I am sure we will get that,” Shah thundered at a public rally at Kathua town, 90km from Jammu city. “The next government in Jammu and Kashmir will be ours,” he added to loud applause and cheering.
The BJP president, a confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also said that India would give “a befitting reply” to Pakistan for its frequent violations of the 2003 ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, he questioned Abdullah’s right to criticise the central government over these violations.
Saying the people of the country were with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP president said the National Conference-led government had no right to stay in power. Alluding to the Abdullah family, Shah appealed to the people of the state to end dynastic rule in Kashmir. Shah blamed the state government for mishandling the clashes during this year’s Amarnath Yatra. Senior Congress leader and two-time Lok Sabha member Choudhary Lal Singh joined the BJP at Amit Shah’s Kathua rally.