Bypoll results

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party suffered an unexpectedly sharp jolt in by-elections in eight states, losing seats it held in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat and prompting the Opposition to declare that public opinion had turned against the Narendra Modi government since it came to power at the end of May with a thumping majority . Apart from three Lok Sabha seats, which were decided as expected, polls were held for 33 assembly seats, with BJP losing 13 of the 23 it held. Counting in one assembly seat in Chhattisgarh will be held on September 20.
The biggest reversal for BJP came in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, where Samajwadi Party won eight of 11 assembly seats, and in Rajasthan, where Congress won three out of four.
Congress wresting three of the seats held by BJP MLAs in Gujarat seemed to underscore the sudden indifference of voters toward the party in Modi's home state as well.
The results have dented the aura of invincibility around the prime minister and his government, particularly when public discourse is still dominated by Modi and his promises, analysts said. It could also strengthen the hand of fractious allies such as Shiv Sena in Maharashtra when it comes to bargaining for seats ahead of assembly elections there. “BJP won earlier because of the euphoria generated by Modi during the Lok Sabha polls. But now, after four months, people are questioning the promises that he made,” said Badri Narayan, author and political commentator.
“Also, the party organisation is still weak after remaining out of power for so long. And BJP leader Yogi Adityanath’s speeches were not received well by the people,” he said, referring to anti-Muslim rhetoric by the party’s lead campaigner in Uttar Pradesh. BJP denied that public support for Modi had weakened, with spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain blaming the results on local factors. “Results in some places are not according to our expectations.These bypolls were fought on local issues,” he said.
Political commentators such as Gandhian Chunnibhai Vaidya of Ahmedabad said, however, that the Modi wave had ebbed.“People vote whimsically. They did for Modi in a wave, now the wave is receding. But that is no reason to cheer. Work needs to be done in creating an aware electorate all over who would vote consciously and not on waves,” Vaidya said.
The three Lok Sabha seats were won on expected lines by party nominees. Modi’s Vadodara seat was retained by BJP’s city deputy mayor Ranjanben Bhatt, while Mulayam Singh’s grand nephew won the family pocket borough of Mainpuri that had been vacated by the Samajwadi Party leader to retain Azamgarh. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s seat was won by the candidate of his Telangana Rashtra Samiti party.
The results on Tuesday came in the wake of a below-par showing by BJP in states such as Bihar, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh in the past two months.
Congress won three of the nine seats in Gujarat, which was an unexpected showing by a party believed to have been in terminal decline in the state.
The silver lining for BJP came from West Bengal, with an assembly seat victory. A bigger surprise was that it came second in the other assembly seat that went to polls. This would have come as a shock for CPI (M) and could even mean that the Marxists are ceding the Opposition space to BJP, while Mamata Banerjee is consolidating minority votes. BJP re-entered the West Bengal assembly after 15 years, and for the first time on its own, breaking the state's decades old political polarization. Shamik Bhattacharya won from Basirhat South by a margin of 1,586 votes. The last time the saffron party had booked a seat in the House was in 1999, when Badal Bhattacharya won a bypoll from Ashoknagar as a BJP-Trinamool candidate. Trinamool managed to bag Chowringhee, but here too BJP was second.

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