Monday, November 29, 2021

Congress stuns its enemies and surprises friends

  • It fared well in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka
  • Shiv Sena gains a Lok Sabha seats outside Maharashtra
  • BJP and its allies do well in MP and North-East

The message from by-elections to three Lok Sabha seats and 29 assembly seats is that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah combination is beatable. The BJP lost two assembly seats in West Bengal where the ruling Trinamool Congress took all the four seats for which by-elections were held. As for the three Lok Sabha seats, the BJP lost the Mandi seat in Himachal Pradesh to Congress while it won one in Madhya Pradesh and Shiv Sena got the union territory seat.  

There was counting votes in bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats and 29 assembly seats on Tuesday across 13 states and the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The BJP won in a grand fashion at the places it won such as Madhya Pradesh and the North-East. For the Congress, it was a stupendous win in Himachal Pradesh and a good show in Rajasthan where it retained the one  assembly seat and wrested one from the BJP. The Congress ally Shiv Sena had won the Lok Sabha seat in a big way in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, first time outside Maharathtra.

In Goa and Tripura, there is a lot of anger against the BJP. The TMC in both the States is a starter. How to channelize the popular anger is the challenge before the TCM and the other opposition parties. There is a lack of unity among the opposition and if the TMC insists on  going  alone in these two states for the forthcoming Assembly elections, it might help the BJP since the anti-BJP votes would be split among the Congress and the TMC. Derek Brien, TMC Rajya Sabha, says the hundred year old grand papa and mama dictating terms to a twenty two year old TMC would not work anymore. The TMC under Mamata Banerjee has been consistently taking on the BJP. Others also have to do the same. Nitish, the minister of state in the union government, won the assembly seat with a good majority in early 2021 but TMC snatched it away now. Khela Hobbe continues in West Bengal even after the assembly win in a massive way. Nobody can stop the TMC for now. But if the TMC leadership extrapolates the Bengal scenario to national scenario and claim to be the only party that can take on the BJP, it will be living in an illusion. The Congress gains in seats where  it was pitted against the BJP cannot be ignored.

The Congress sprang a surprise victory in Himachal Pradesh wresting two BJP seats-one Lok Sabha and one Assembly. In Himachal, the Congress retained Fatehpur and Arki and won Jabbal-Kotkhai seat, the apple heartland, belonging to the BJP which suffered a defeat because of infighting. The BJP made a blunder in Jubbal – Kotkhai where it had withdrawn the ticket form Chetan Singh Bragta, the son of sitting MLA Narinder Singh Bragta whose death caused the by-election. Chetan fought the election as an independent making the BJP lose its deposit and thus helping the Congress to win.  It also won the Lok Sabha seat of Mandi. The seat was won by the BJP in 2019 with a vast majority of some four lakh votes. The Congress fielded Pratibha Singh, wife of late Chief Minister Veerabhadra Singh, a respected politician who was chief minister for several times, against a war veteran of Kargil fame Brigadier Khushal Thakur. The lady managed to win by 7,000 votes.  Besides the Himachal being the native state of JP Nadda, the BJP’snational president, Anurag Thakur, the union minister, campaigned there  tirelessly. It also happens to be home ground of HP chief minister Jairam Thakur.

In Karnataka, Hangal is widely regarded as the backyard of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who had taken over the reins from BS Yediyurappa recently. But the seat was won by Congress candidate Srinivas Mane. It sent shock waves through the BJP. About ten Karnataka ministers campaigned in this constituency besides the chief minister himself touring the area for ten days. However, the BJP won Singdi seat.

In Rajastan, the ruling Congress had retained Vallbhanagar and wrested from the BJP the Dhariawad seat. While the Congress polled 37.51 per cent of the total votes, the BJP got 18.8 per cent. It is a credit for  Chief Minister Gehlot.

As Randeep surjewala tweeted, “BJP has lost two out of three Lok Sabha seats and in Assembly by-elections the BJP lost wherever it was pitched in direct contest with the Congress.” But the same Congress party has lost its deposit in Huzurabad assembly by-elections in Telangana and Badvel bypoll in Andhra Pradesh. The Congress came a cropper in both the Telugu States. In the Badvel assembly constituency Dr Sudha, wife of the deceased legislator, won by some 90,000 votes while Etala Rajender of the BJP won in Huzurabad in a prestigious, keenly fought and the costliest by-election so far in the country, with 23 thousand votes against the ruling party TRS candidate Gelli Srinivas.

Shiv Sena had recorded its first major win outside Maharashtra when it won Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The Shiv Sena ticket was given to Kalaben Delkar,  wife of Independent MP Mohanjibhai Sanjibhai Kelkar whose death by suicide earlier this year caused the by-election. The six-time MP alleged harassment by the Union Territory administration.  Kalaben defeated BJP’s Gavit Maheshbhai by 51,269 votes. Sympathy factor must have helped both the Congress candidate in Mandi and Shiv Sena candidate in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. In Maharashtra, the Congress retained Delgur(reserved) seat where its candidate Jitesh Raosaheb Antapurkar had beaten the BJP’s Subhash Pirajirao sabne. The by-election was cause by the death of Jitesh’s father who was the sitting member.  

It was in Madhy Pradesh, beside the North-East, that the BJP did well. In Khandwa bypoll for Lok Sabha, the BJP’s Gyaneshwar Patil defeated Congress’s Rajanarayan Singh Purni by a margin of 82,140 votes. The ruling BJP lost Raigaon (reserved) seat to the Congress but gained Prithvipur and Jobat (reserved) constituencies from the Congress.

The BJP in Assam had retained three of the five assembly seats for which by-elections were held on October 30. Its ally UPPL took over Gossaigaon and Tamalpur seats.  In Bihar Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) won two seats. The Congress lost deposit on both the seats. RJD ended up in second position.  In Haryana, it was Abhay Choutala of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), who resigned over the farmers’ issue, who won with comfortable majority. In Meghalaya, BJP ally NPP won two Assembly  seats of Mawryngkneng and Rajabala. NPP’s ally UDP won Mauphlang assembly seat. In Mozoram, BJP ally MNF won the Tuirial assembly seat. In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party won the Shamator Chessore Assembly seat. It was a very  good performance by the BJP and its allies in the North-East and the credit should go to Assam Chief Minister  Himanta Biswa Sarma.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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