Four victories give the BJP a boost in the bypoll; TRS, RJD, and Sena each earn one
As a result of the byelections to seven assembly seats in six states on Sunday, the BJP received a shot in the arm ahead of the high-stakes assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh — it retained three seats in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha, and won one in Haryana from the Congress.
The most keenly watched contest was in the Munugode assembly seat in Telangana, where Congress MLA K Raj Gopal Reddy resigned and joined the BJP, forcing the bypoll and triggering a confrontation between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (renamed Bharat Rashtra Samithi) and the BJP. TRS’s K Prabhakar Reddy won the election despite an initial scare from the BJP.
Due to the failure of the Congress candidate, Palvai Sravanthi Reddy, to save her deposit, the party was wiped out. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the Bharat Jodo Yatra, led by Rahul Gandhi, took place in Telangana, where the party had claimed tremendous support.
With the high-decibel campaign ultimately culminating in an unprecedented 93% polling, the TRS and BJP had pulled out all the stops to win the by-election. As the votes were counted, the TRS and BJP traded leading positions. The TRS did not begin to pull ahead until the fifth round.
Upon completion of the counting, the TRS received 97,006 votes, the BJP received 86,697 votes and the Congress received 23,906 votes.
After losing two of three by-polls to the BJP in the last two years, the Munugode victory will relieve the TRS heading into next year’s assembly elections. In addition to its alliance with the Left parties, the TRS also benefited from the diversion of some votes Raj Gopal Reddy won last time to the Congress and BSP. A Sankara Chari of the BSP received 4,146 votes.
The breather will likely be short-lived, as the results indicate that the TRS cannot take the BJP for granted in the state as it embarks on an ambitious national campaign. At least 50-60 members of the TRS had been deployed to Munugode to highlight the state’s “national role model” programs.
In 2018, Raj Gopal Reddy received 99,239 votes – over 35,000 more than TRS candidate Prabhakar Reddy – despite the TRS sweeping the state. Manohar Reddy of the BJP had received just 12,725 votes at that time.
There was no surprise in the Maharashtra result. Almost 77 percent of the total votes cast went to Rutuja Latke, the Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray candidate in the Andheri (East) assembly bypoll. BJP withdrew its candidate, giving Latke, the wife of late Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke, a virtual walkover.
The votes polled by NOTA were, however, of great interest. Latke’s closest rival, Rajesh Tripathi, received only 1,571 votes (1.8%), whereas None Of The Above (NOTA) received 12,806 votes (14.8%).
Another high-profile contest was in Haryana, where Kuldeep Bishnoi’s departure from the Congress necessitated a byelection in Adampur, the family bastion. Bishnoi is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, and his family has been in control of the constituency since 1968.
Bhavya Bishnoi, 29, won the election on a BJP ticket by more than 15,000 votes. In August, Kuldeep, a two-time MP and four-time MLA, left the Congress and joined the BJP.
Congress candidate Jai Prakash received 51,752 votes, followed by INLD candidate Kurdaram Nambardar with 5,248 votes, and AAP candidate Satender Singh with 3,420 votes.
While the BJP managed to retain Gopalganj in Bihar and the RJD was able to retain Mokama, both parties experienced reductions in their victory margins. As a result, the BJP faced a formidable combination of social forces in the form of the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance.
The RJD’s Neelam Devi, wife of former MLA Anant Singh, won the Mokama seat by less than 17,000 votes, while the BJP’s Kusum Devi, wife of former MLA Subhash Singh, won the Gopalganj seat by 1,794 votes.
Anant Singh, an RJD MLA from Mokama, lost his Assembly membership following a recent conviction under the Arms Act. In a stronghold of his family, his wife’s victory was a foregone conclusion, and the election was all about the margin of victory. Anant won the seat by more than 35,000 votes in 2020.
The RJD-JD(U)-Congress’s Mohan Prasad Gupta was defeated in Gopalganj by Kusum Devi. The BSP’s Anirudh Prasad, alias Sadhu Yadav, came second in 2020 with 40,000-odd votes, but his wife, Indira Yadav, finished third with only 8,854 votes this time. It is noteworthy that the AIMIM candidate received more than 12,000 votes.
Combined, the BSP and AIMIM candidates secured over 20,000 votes, which was alleged to have indirectly benefited the BJP by the RJD alliance.
Aman Giri of the BJP defeated Vinay Tiwari of the SP by 34,298 votes in the Gola Gokarannath assembly seat in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. This victory serves as a morale booster for the BJP ahead of the byelections for the Mainpuri Lok Sabha and Rampur assembly.
Aman Giri (26), who was making his political debut, achieved a larger margin of victory than his father, Arvind Giri (29,294), whose death had necessitated the election.
Odisha’s Dhamnagar assembly seat was retained by the BJP, defeating the ruling BJD by over 9,800 votes. The BJD has lost a byelection for the first time since the 2019 assembly elections.
Due to the death of BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi in September, a byelection was required. The son of Sethi, Suryabanshi Suraj, was the party’s candidate and secured 80,351 votes, while the BJD’s Abanti Das received 70,470 votes. Congress nominee Baba Harekrushna Sethi received only 3,561 votes.