The NDA alliance ceded an assembly seat in Jharkhand to Congress in the bypoll result announced on Thursday, with political experts seeing it as an aftereffect of the Bihar poll debacle.
State Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat won the Lohardaga seat defeating Neeru Shanti Bhagat, a political greenhorn from the All Jharkhand Students Union, by a big margin of 23,288 votes.
Despite losing one of its seats, the NDA still has a majority of 47 in the 81-member assembly.
In 2014, Lohardaga was won by AJSU’s Kamal Kishore Bhagat, who was later convicted in a 1993 extortion case in June this year and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment.
Just 78 hours before going to jail, Bhagat married Neeru Shanti, who was made the NDA candidate in the bypoll.
Experts said the recent rout for the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in neighbouring Bihar was creating ripples in Jharkhand where the alliance rode to power for the first time in 2014.
“It is an outright rejection of the NDA…an aftermath of the Bihar election,” said political expert Dr. Pankaj Prasun, director of the Delhi-based Centre for Indian Political Research and Analysis.
“It is also a revival of the Congress, which is in full swing even in Punjab. It’s high time the BJP does away with communal politics and think of development,” he said.
This comes just over a month after the Bihar assembly elections where the BJP coalition was routed by Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance, despite despite rigorous campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Shortly after the Bihar result, the BJP also lost parliamentary byelections in Madhya Pradesh(Ratlam) and Telangana( Warangal), while making some gains in the Manipur assembly.
“The results show that disaffection with BJP over unchecked price rise has reached even the villages. The huge difference in the number of votes shows that voters have expressed their anger,” said political expert, Prof. VP Sharan.
Congress’s Sukhdeo Bhagat got a total of 73,859 votes, while AJSU’s Neeru Shanti Bhagat stood second with 50,571 votes and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik’s Bandhu Tirkey got 16,951 votes.
Lohardaga has a population of 4.61 lakh of which nearly 21% are Muslims.