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Bypolls show few surprises, BJP wins four out of seven seats

Gopalganj seat in Bihar shows how an apparent division in ‘secular votes’ can help the Bharatiya Janata Party
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi
File Photo

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 07.11.22, 02:02 AM

The by-elections to seven Assembly segments across six states held on Thursday did not throw up any surprises when the results were declared on Sunday.

The BJP won four, and the RJD, TRS and the Shiv Sena (Thackeray) one each. The Congress drew a blank.


The Gopalganj seat in Bihar showed how an apparent division in the so-called “secular votes” can help the BJP. Five of the seven seats went to parties that had won them in the previous election too. The Congress lost the remaining two seats but this was along expected lines.

The Congress lost Adampur in Haryana’s Hisar district and Munudone in Telangana after both seats fell vacant with party MLAs switching to the BJP.

The BJP made its sole gain in Adampur, courtesy former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal’s family shifting loyalties. The family has won 15 elections in a row in Adampur since 1968.

A similar gamble by the BJP in Telangana failed to pay off. Komatireddy Rajgopal Reddy, who had won the seat on a Congress ticket in 2018 but shifted to the BJP in September, could not do what Bhavya Bishnoi managed in Adampur. He did, however, help the BJP give the TRS a tough fight and push the Congress to third position.

Reddy helped the BJP increase its vote share in the Assembly segment from 6.4 per cent in 2018 to 38.38 per cent, just four percentage points less than the ruling TRS mustered after a high-pitched campaign. In the last leg of the campaign, the Telangana police claimed to have caught the BJP red-handed trying to poach four TRS MLAs.

The BJP retained Dhamnagar in Odisha with an increased margin and increased vote share. In Bihar, the BJP held on to Gopalganj while the RJD maintained its writ on Mokama in the first election since chief minister Nitish Kumar’s latest changing of sides. The by-election had been necessitated by the disqualification of the RJD’s sitting MLA and local strongman Anant Kumar Singh.

BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi argued that the Mokama victory belonged not to the Mahagathbandhan but to Singh, highlighting that the BJP had in its first foray into the Assembly segment in 27 years posted an impressive tally of 63,000 votes. It was the JDU that would earlier contest the seat on behalf of the NDA.

For Uddhav Thackeray’s Sena, the Andheri East result went along expected lines after the BJP withdrew its candidate against Rutuja Latke, who had stepped in for her late husband.

The gesture, which came despite the hostilities between the BJP and the Thackeray group over the split in the original Shiv Sena, apparently owed to a tradition in Maharashtra not to field candidates against family members of deceased legislators.

The high percentage of votes polled by the Nota (none of the above) option in Andheri East, however, has become a subject of political chatter. The Thackeray faction of the Sena had alleged in the run-up to the election that people were being asked to press the Nota button. Nota bagged 12,806 votes — 14.79 per cent of the total.

The Gola Gokrannath Assembly segment in Uttar Pradesh — fallen vacant following the death of the sitting MLA — gave the BJP reason enough to claim this round of by-elections as a big win, particularly with the Opposition alliance in Bihar failing to wrest Gopalganj from it.

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