By-elections results from Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal are good news for BJP and bad for Congress.
For West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banarjee, the narrow victory of her candidate in Howra is a warning signal of her declining popularity. She is in close contest with UP’s Akhilesh Yadav to lose popularity fast, both starting with massive public support and going downhill soon after.
All six seats in Gujarat – two to Lok Sabha and four to the state assembly – were won by the Congress last time. Even in BJP’s most optimistic account, it expected to lose one Lok Sabha seat.
BJP’s emphatic sweep bolsters chief minister Narendra Modi, who is fighting a pitched battle to get himself anointed as the BJP’s prime minister candidate for the 2014 election. But the sweep in Gujarat, which is anyway a stronghold of BJP and Modi, does not qualitatively change the national political scenario much.
One could argue that Modi has won in Bihar too. Lalu Prasad’s RJD won the lone Lok Sabha, defeating the JD(U) candidate who contested with BJP support amid growing friction between the two allies.
How is it a victory for Modi? JD(U)-BJP friction is rooted in Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s disapproval of Modi as PM candidate. Ever since Nitish took a hostile posturing towards the BJP, the upper castes in Bihar have become restive.
The huge margin by which Nitish’s candidate lost – who himself is an upper caste Bhumihar – is indicative of Bihar’s political wind. In fact, the JD(U) candidate blamed the BJP for his defeat.
RJD won the by-election, but in case the BJP, JD(U), Congress and RJD contest separately in 2014, situation could be different.