It’s 2:1 for RJD, BJP in Bihar bypolls

Reacting to the results, Tejashwi, who is also the leader of opposition in state assembly, thanked voters for “reposing faith in Lalu’s ideology”.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2018 21:32 IST
Alok Mohit
Alok Mohit
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar bypoll,Araria,Jehanabad
Rashtriya Janta Dal legislators celebrate after the success of their party candidates in Lok Sabha and Assembly by-elections outside Bihar Assembly in Patna on Wednesday. (PTI)

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on Wednesday retained the Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad seats, prompting its leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav to claim that “people have given a befitting reply to the opportunistic alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United)”.

The saving grace for the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), however, was the BJP’s win in Bhabua assembly constituency.

The by-elections to the three seats, necessitated by deaths of sitting lawmakers, were held on Sunday.

After trailing initially, RJD’s Sarfaraz Alam forged ahead after the fourth round in the Araria seat and never looked back. He defeated his nearest rival and former BJP MP Pradip Kumar Singh by a comfortable margin of over 60,000 votes.

Alam is the son of Mohammad Taslimuddin, after whose death the Araria seat had fallen vacant. He was earlier JD(U) MLA from Jokihat, an assembly segment of Araria Laok Sabha constituency, and had crossed over to Lalu Prasad’s RJD to contest the by-poll.

The victory margin for RJD has, however, seen a decline as Taslimuddin had won the seat in 2014 by about 1,46,000 votes over Singh.

In Jehanabad, RJD’s Kumar Krishna Mohan alias Suday Yadav, defeated JD(U)’s Abhiram Sharma by a huge margin of over 35,000 votes. The seat had fallen vacant after the death of Suday Yadav’s father Mundrika Singh Yadav.

Mundrika Singh Yadav had defeated Praveen Kumar of BJP ally RLSP by 30321 votes in 2015 assembly elections.

BJP’s Rinki Rani Pandey prevented clean sweep by RJD-led alliance by defeating Congress nominee Sambhu Singh Patel by more than 15, 000 votes. Rinki is the wife of Anand Bhushan Pandey, whose death had necessitated the by poll. In the 2015 assembly polls, Anand Bhushan had triumphed over Pramod Kumar Singh of the JD(U), then an ally of RJD, by 7744 votes.

Political observers said both the alliances had fielded family members of deceased lawmakers to garner sympathy votes. “Their strategy seems to have paid off,” they said.

BJP state president Nityanand Rai corroborated the sympathy factor stating Bihar electorate have vote out of sympathy. “I’d like to thank all those who’ve supported us. We welcome the mandate. We will certainly win the 2019 elections under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s leadership ,” he said.

Reacting to the results, Tejashwi, who is also the leader of opposition in state assembly, thanked voters for “reposing faith in Lalu’s ideology”. His sister and Rajya Sabha member Misa Bharti tweeted to say that results signaled the “end of Nitish Kumar’s political career”.

Commenting on his victory, Alam thanked the people of Araria for showing faith in him. “I will try my level best to complete the unfinished work of my father,” Alam said, adding the “result will give me extra energy to fulfill the aspirations of the people”.

CPI state working committee member Irfan Ahmad Faatmi said the result was also an answer to Rai’s comment that Alam’s victory would turn Araria into a hub of ISI. “People have rejected BJP’s hate politics,” he said.

BJP leaders and supporters attributed the defeat to inner-party dissensions. “The party was also hoping for split in Yadav votes, with Pappu Yadav’s party fielding a candidate. But it did not work out,” a BJP worker said.

In Bhabua, Rinki Rani Pandey said she had no words to express her gratitude towards voters. “Victory has given me an opportunity to complete my husband’s unfinished tasks,” she said.

(With inputs from Aditya Nath Jha in Araria and Prasun K Mishra in Bhabua)

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 19:46 IST