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Bypoll Results: BJP Bags 2 Seats, Down 1; Was Modi Factor Missing?

In the bypolls, BJP’s lost Dantewada to Congress and its vote share fell in Hamirpur, Badharghat and Pala.

Published
Politics
4 min read
PM Narendra Modi’s popularity doesn’t seem to have been a factor in the bypolls
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The results of the bypolls to four Assembly constituencies were as expected, with the ruling party in each state emerging victorious.

The BJP won Badharghat in Tripura and Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh and Congress wrested Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada seat from the BJP. Left Democratic Front constituent NCP won the Pala seat in Kerala, ending Kerala Congress (Mani’s) record 54-year hold on the seat.

The results may be a bit of a disappointment for the BJP, which held three of the four seats where bypolls were held but managed to retain only two. Significantly, its vote share fell across all four Assembly segments in comparison to the Lok Sabha elections.

This can be seen as a sign that the ‘Modi factor’ works for the party mainly in the national elections, and not so much in state elections and bypolls.

Let’s look at the four seats in detail.

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Badharghat (Tripura)

BJP candidate Mimi Majumdar won from Badharghat, defeating her CPM rival Bulti Karmakar by a margin of 5,276 votes. The BJP’s vote share fell marginally, from 53.8 in the 2018 Assembly elections to 44.6 percent. Even in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP secured close to 52 percent votes in Tripura West Lok Sabha seat, under which Badharghat falls.

The CPM’s performance improved as compared to that in the Lok Sabha elections, and it overtook the Congress to become the runner-up.

The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of BJP leader Dilip Sarkar in April this year.

Dantewada (Chhattisgarh)

Perhaps the most keenly watched seat in the bypolls was Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, which witnessed a contest between the wives of two politicians who were killed in Maoist attacks: BJP leader Bhima Mandavi’s wife Ojasvi Mandavi and Congress leader Mahendra Karma’s wife Devati Karma.

The Congress wrested the seat from the BJP as Devati Karma defeated Ojasvi Mandavi by a margin of over 11,000 votes.

The seat fell vacant after Bhima Mandavi was killed in a Maoist attack in May this year.

Mandavi had defeated Devati Karma by a narrow margin of around 2,000 votes in the Assembly elections last year.

The win is not surprising as the Congress managed to win Bastar, under which Dantewada falls, even in the midst of a Modi wave in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The win must come as a shot in the arm of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, and the Congress’ strength in the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly would go up to 69.

Hamirpur (UP)

BJP’s Yuvraj Singh has won the by-election from Uttar Pradesh’s Hamirpur, defeating Samajwadi Party’s Manoj Kumar Prajapati by a margin of 17,867.

While the BJP’s win is not unexpected, the bypoll was being closely observed from the perspective of who would rank second in the four-cornered context. The SP seems to have succeeded in establishing itself as the main Opposition in the state by securing nearly 30 percent votes, about eight percentage points behind the BJP.

The SP’s erstwhile ally BSP finished third at under 15 percent and the Congress came a distant fourth at just 8.3 percent. Both BSP and Congress candidates forfeited their deposits.

Though it won the seat, the BJP’s vote share fell from 44.5 percent in the 2017 Assembly elections to 38 percent. The BSP’s vote share also fell by around nine percentage points. The SP, on the other hand, saw an increment of 5 percentage points.

Pala (Kerala)

Pala in Kerala witnessed a major upset with Congress ally Kerala Congress (Mani) losing its bastion for the first time. Party Founder KM Mani had represented this seat since 1965, establishing a record for being elected from the same place the maximum number of times. The bypoll was necessitated by Mani’s death earlier this year.

The party’s candidate TJ Jose lost to Mani C Kappan of the NCP, which is a constituent of the ruling Left Democratic Front, by a margin of 2,943 votes.

The KC(M)’s loss is being attributed to the factionalism within the party between PJ Joseph and Jose K Mani.

Another significant aspect of the election was the fall in the BJP’s votes. In Pala, the party had secured 24,821 votes in the 2016 Assembly elections and about 26,000 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, it fell to about 18,000 in the bypoll. Even its vote share fell by five percentage points as compared to 2016.

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What the Results Mean

  • The BJP’s defeat in Dantewada and the fall in its vote share in Hamirpur, Badharghat and Pala indicate that despite the party’s monopoly in national elections because of the ‘Modi factor’, it is still vulnerable in state and local elections. It seems that national issues like the abrogation of Article 370 didn’t seem to have any impact on voting choice in the bypolls.
  • It was a mixed result for the Congress. While the win in Dantewada is a boost, the poor performance in Hamirpur is a setback given how the party has been projecting Priyanka Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh. The KC(M)’s defeat in Kerala is also a wake-up call for the faction-ridden Congress to get its act together in Kerala.
  • SP has proven that it remains the most powerful Opposition party in Uttar Pradesh, despite its poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections. The party came second and improved its vote share despite it being said to be comparatively weak in the Bundelkhand region.
  • The bypolls have brought some good news for the beleaguered Left parties. The win in Pala would come as a boost to the Left in the run-up to bypolls to five seats in Kerala in October. The CPM’s performance in Badgharghat and the resignation of Tripura Congress Chief Pradyot Debbarman indicates that the Left is back as the main Opposition in the north-eastern state, after the debacle in the Lok Sabha polls.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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