On March 3, BJP and its allies got three more states under their fold. The warm after-glow of its victory in Tripura was palpable in voice of the Prime Minister, who even mentioned it indirectly in an apolitical student’s meet.
Most commentators and political parties were bracing for the next major battleground state of Karnataka.
But like a bolt from the blue, the by-elections in Hindi heartland has dealt a deep blow to BJP’s juggernaut ahead of 2019. Now, analysing bypolls can be tricky, particularly the science of using discrete data to extrapolate for a larger variable.
And more often than not, bypolls just reinforce the status-quo. But when a series of bypoll results point towards one very pronounced trend, then ignoring that would also be wrong.
BJP losing two seats in UP and failing to wrest Araria seat in Bihar from RJD is a warning sign the party can’t afford to ignore.
Most analysts thought that Phulpur would be a close contest with SP-BSP putting up a single candidate. There was hardly any murmur that CM Adityanath’s seat Gorakhpur is also a close match-up. But one could hardly blame pundits for missing that trend. Adityanath’s trajectory has been on the upswing ever since BJP’s historic UP Assembly win.
He has been roped in as party’s star speaker in Gujarat and Tripura, ramping up the attack against CM Siddaramaiah in poll-bound Karnataka.
At a time, when Adityanath is slowly building up a national profile and fawning op-eds mentioning how crucial Nath voters are in scheme of things in different states are being written, UP CM lost a battle in his own backyard.
BJP has held the seat in the last 7 Lok Sabha polls, hence it getting flipped is much more ominous than Phulpur, which the party won in 2014 wave election.
In Phulpur, BJP lost by over 59 thousand votes and a SP rebel got 40 thousand odd votes. So, one can only imagine the nature of domination the SP-BSP alliance ensured in UP Deputy CM Maurya’s constituency.
In Gorakhpur, Upendra Dutt Shukla, wasn’t the first choice of CM Adityanath. Yet, he tried his best but failed to win the seat for the party.
The vote analysis shows double effect of BSP-SP alliance and disenchantment with the ruling regime polishing off the over 3-lakh lead in both seats. In Gorakhpur, BJP’s vote share is down 5.3% and a whopping 13.6% in Phulpur.
On the other hand, SP + BSP got 38.8% in Gorakhpur in 2014 and 37.4% in Phulpur in the last poll. The SP candidate in Gorakhpur got 48.9% in 2018 and that in Phulpur received 47% this time around.
So, SP-BSP alliance was merely one of the two major reasons behind BJP’s shock losses. There is a significant anti-incumbency with the BJP ruling in both state and centre. A C-Voter projection has even more alarming news for BJP. It extrapolated the trends from these bypolls and projected BJP may be down to 28 (-45) seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2019.
Similarly, the SP-BSP combination may get 45 more seats, up from 5 in 2014. If the poll fortunes really swing so drastically in 2019, adding to BJP’s seemingly inevitable loss of seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, the path to 2019 re-election for Narendra Modi would be much steeper.
In Bihar’s Araria, Congress Supported RJD won in a seat with a margin of 61988 votes against BJP.
The JD(U) couldn’t manage to transfer its votes share to BJP. Sushil Kumar Modi on Twitter hinted at a minority mobilsation against the BJP, but there is no reason to believe that won’t happen a year later.
Lalu in jail could not help BJP JD to rope a easy victory that many saffron party pundits predicted.
Nitish Kumar jumped sides to be in the right side of political dispensation, pun intended but if that means desertion of his Muslim vote-bank, he may be willing to rethink his options again.
The BJP has won only two Lok Sabha bypolls in four years, now down to 274 from 282 in 2014. In nutshell it has lost 8 MP seats.
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