What the bypoll results mean for PM Modi, Amit Shah, Rahul Gandhi, and other key leaders | Analysis
Results for the four Lok Sabha by-elections, nine assembly bypolls, and election for one assembly seat in Karnataka will have an impact on key leaders.Updated: May 31, 2018 16:40 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gone are the days when bypolls mattered little in politics. With parties investing extraordinary energy and capital in each election, they have acquired political significance. The four Lok Sabha by-elections, nine assembly bypolls, and election for one assembly seat in Karnataka will have an impact on key leaders:
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
This is a political setback for both the Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Shah. While Shah has emphasised that bypolls happen on local issues, the fact that BJP has lost its third consecutive by-election in Uttar Pradesh because of the Opposition coming together means the 2014 performance in the state will be tough to repeat in 2019. Coming soon after the Karnataka setback, this loss will have an impact on party morale.
The Congress president will find energy in the BJP’s defeat. It is further testimony to the fact that if all non-BJP forces come together, the saffron juggernaut can be stopped. And this is the strategy the Congress has systematically decided to pursue. But Gandhi ought to remain concerned that the party is primarily riding on its allies and its own strength in battleground states such as UP is non-existent.
After four years of political oblivion, the western UP-centric Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has made a comeback. There is now a clear generational shift in the party from Ajit Singh to Chaudhary, who has emerged a leader in his own right. His campaign helped bring the Jats back and revived the Jat-Muslim political alliance. The big challenge for him is building on the political success and maintaining the social coalition in the next election.
With his father Lalu Prasad in prison, it is Tejashwi Yadav who has led the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) with reasonable success. After its win the Araria bypolls, the RJD’s victory in the Jokihat assembly increases Yadav’s stock, enhances the challenge for the Nitish Kumar-BJP combine in 2019, and makes RJD a key element of the Opposition alliance.
Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati
Even as the Samajwadi Party backed the RLD directly, the Bhaujan Samaj Party lend indirect support to the candidate in Kairana. The UP win builds on the Akhilesh-Mayawati understanding that helped defeat the BJP in Gorakhpur and Phulpur; it will deepen their commitment to the alliance and the two leaders will constitute the most important political challenge to the BJP in 2019.
The Shiv Sena fought the Palghar Lok Sabha election against the BJP. It has also been very aggressive in its position against BJP, despite being in government. With the loss, Thackeray’s bargaining power and political weight diminishes. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has emerged as the far more powerful player in the BJP-Sena equation in Maharashtra.
First Published: May 31, 2018 16:26 IST