It must be noted that out of 23 bypolls since 2014, BJP has managed to win only four. Whether this reflects the anti-incumbency, in general, is a different issue.
The clouds of uncertainty around who will form the government in Karnataka have faded. On 19th May, BS Yeddyurappa who had taken oath as the 23rd CM of Karnataka just two days ago resigned from the post even before the floor test. The BJP which emerged as the Single Largest Party failed to gather the number to reach the Majority mark. While the post-poll defeat of BJP already comes as an obstacle in the saffron surge that has swept 20 states in India, the party has incurred more loss than the Karnataka defeat alone.
For BJP, the stakes in Karnataka were much higher. While the party was fighting to clean the slate of its past administerial records in the state which was mostly tumultuous, it had trusted BS Yeddyurappa to head its chariot. Though Yeddyurappa’s name tainted in the infamous mining scam, he still remains a popular figure and a heavyweight leader of Lingayat community. The party cleared at the beginning of the campaign that it will fight under the guidance of its CM Candidate Yeddyurappa. Thus, the party made him resign from Lok Sabha and filed his nomination from Shikaripura Assembly seat.
The case of B Sriramulu, however, was different. Srirramulu who considers the infamous Reddy Brothers of Bellary his mentors resigned from Lok Sabha and filed his nominations from Badami against former CM Siddaramaiah. Sriramulu who is quite popular in Gadag-a district adjacent to Badami was confident on his win. So much so, that he even went out to say during a rally that he will become the Deputy CM if BJP wins. However, he lost his Badami seat to Congress heavyweight Siddaramaiah.
Now that, two of them resigned from the Lok Sabha, it has necessitated by-polls in their respective Lok Sabha constituencies. With this, the seat tally of BJP in the Lower House has come down to 272- the exact majority mark. It is noteworthy that in 2014, the BJP won whopping 282 seats with a historic majority. Since then, BJP has lost as much as 10 Lok Sabha seats in by-polls.
In a major morale boost for the Congress- ‘The Grand Old Party’ of India resurrected on all three seats that went for bypoll in the state of Rajasthan earlier this year. The two Lok Sabha seats and one assembly seat in Rajasthan that went for polling were earlier held by the ruling BJP. The Congress managed not only managed to snatch the crucial Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats but also showed an upward swing in its vote share. The by-poll defeat surely came as a major blow for the ruling BJP as the state will, later this year, go for assembly elections.
In Alwar, Congress’s Dr. Karan Singh Yadav registered a sweeping victory by defeating ruling BJP’s Dr. Jaswant Singh Yadav with a margin of 1,96,496 votes. In Ajmer, BJP’s Ramswaroop Lamba faced a drubbing with Congress’ Raghu Sharma winning the seat by a margin of 84,414 votes. In a state where Congress couldn’t even open its account on any of the 25 Lok Sabha seats, the vote shares of the party increased from 33.71% in 2014 to almost 58% in 2018. On the other hand, BJP’s vote share fell down from almost 60% in 2014 to 40% in 2018.
Madhya Pradesh By-polls:
Yet another state ruled by BJP for years where the party lost by-poll is Madhya Pradesh. The anti-incumbency is already building around Shivraj Chouhan government. The farmer’s anguish has fuelled the fire more. In 2015, the Ratlam Lok Sabha seat went for by-poll which was held by BJP’s Dileep Bhuria. However, Congress snatched the seat from BJP with its candidate Kantilal Bhuria winning by the margin of whopping 88,800 votes.
The recently concluded assembly by-polls on Kolaras and Muungaoli seats were seen as a prestige battle between Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress. The Congress went on to win both the seats.
Uttar Pradesh By-polls:
Though BJP had been losing a number of Lok Sabha by-polls, it was the Uttar Pradesh by-poll defeat that sent BJP caused BJP to worry. Gorakhpur which was the Lok Sabha constituency of UP CM was won by the coalition of once arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samajwadi Party. As a matter of fact, it was rather the defeat of BJP than Samajwadi Party’s win that took Yogi Adityanath by surprise considering that he has been winning for five consecutive terms (in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections) at a stretch from the very two same regions. It made his party’s win in the state so far an unperturbed one.
However, the SP-BSP coalition successfully consolidated the Yadav and Dalit votes against BJP. The formula may also threaten BJP’s prospect during Lok Sabha polls of 2019.
Palghar and Kairana by-poll:
Winning the upcoming by-polls in Maharashtra’s Palghar and UP’s Kairana is now of more significance for BJP. For Kairana, the voting will be held on May 28 and counting of votes for both the constituencies will be held on May 31. The Kairana caste equation poses the major challenge for the BJP. While the Muslim population is about 5.5 Lakh, Dalits make up to 2 Lakhs of the entire population. The Jat, Saini, Prajapati, Kashyaps make up to 4 lakh while Gurjars make up to 1 lakh and 30 Thousand of the populace.
However, BJP is mainly focusing its core voter base of Gurjars and Upper caste Hindus. On the other hand the opposition, SP-BSP-RLD is banking upon the Dalit, Backwards castes and Muslim vote bank.
In Palghar, the straight fight is between BJP and Shiv Sena. The sitting Palghar MP died Chintaman Wanga died in January after which the By-polls were necessitated. Shiv Sena claimed that the BJP did not bother to take care of Mr. Wanga’s family and that none of its central leaders turned up during his last rites. The Palghar by-poll has brought the frenemies face-to-face. The stakes are so high that UP CM Yogi Adityanath will be campaigning for BJP in Palghar.
It must be noted that out of 23 bypolls since 2014, BJP has managed to win only four. Whether this reflects the anti-incumbency, in general, is a different issue. However, the reduction numbers are definitely a warning bell for the BJP. With opposition aiming to unite a federal front, the eyes will be on the Palghar and Kairana by-polls, where BJP if wins, will get a respite.