Anti-BJP front gets boost, Congress may bolster fortunes from outcome
It’s defeat in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra — the only one of the four Parliamentary constituencies it contested in the latest round of bypolls — did not deter the Congress from celebrating the outcome of the elections, especially the grand alliance’s victory over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a Lok Sabha seat in country’s politically most important state of Uttar Pradesh.
Coming days after the Congress moved in quickly to offer a lead role to the Janata Dal (Secular) in government formation in Karnataka, the results have further strengthened the party’s assessment that the BJP can be defeated only if the opposition parties come together.
Out of the four Lok Sabha by-elections, the opposition was victorious in two. The Nationalist Congress Party won Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra and the Rashtriya Lok Dal defeated the BJP in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress retained RR Nagar assembly seat in Karnataka and the Ampati seat in Meghalaya, and snatched the Shahkot seat from the Akali Dal in Punjab. Its ally Jharkhand Mukti Morcha won the Silli and Gomia assembly seats in Jharkhand and the Rashtriya Janata Dal won the Jokihat assembly seat in Bihar.
The Congress claimed the results prove that the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government has declined. “The results are the people’s mandate against four years of Modi rule and the beginning of the end of the BJP empire. The writing on the wall is clear. The BJP’s exit and success of the Congress and its allies are guaranteed,” Congress leader Pramod Tiwari told reporters.
The Congress is willing to play second, even third fiddle in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that the BJP does not repeat its 2014 or 2017 performance in 2019 in the state that sends the highest number of lawmakers, 80, to the 543-member Lok Sabha. In 2014, the BJP won 71 of the Lok Sabha seats in the state. In the 2017 assembly elections, it won 325 of 403 seats in a landslide win.
“United we will defeat the divisive forces. The big message from the by-elections is that all of us have to bury our differences and come together to defeat the BJP,” Congress leader RPN Singh said.
However, the victory of RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan in Kairana has weakened the Congress party’s bargaining power in terms of seat-sharing in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It had already been on the back foot after a poor show in the Lok Sabha by-elections in Gorakhpur and Phulphur earlier this year.
The grand old party will now have to accept the number of seats given to it by the major coalition partners, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, analysts said. . “The trend continues and the results are significant in terms of building a momentum for a united opposition against the BJP. At the same time, the compulsions for the Congress to go for alliances are increasing with every election,” said Delhi-based political analyst N Bhaskara Rao.