The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ceded an assembly seat in Jharkhand to the Congress party in the bypoll results announced on Thursday, with political experts seeing it as an after-effect of the Bihar poll debacle.
State Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat won the Lohardaga seat by comprehensively defeating Neeru Shanti Bhagat, a political greenhorn from the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), by a 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 recent by-poll.
This by-poll defeat comes just over a month after the Bihar assembly elections where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition was routed by the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance, despite rigorous campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Experts said the rout for the BJP 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.