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Modi gains at home, Nitish turf

By-elections results from Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal are good news for BJP and bad for Congress. HT reports.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2013 20:00 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times

By-elections results from Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal are good news for BJP and bad for Congress.

The BJP wrested two Lok Sabha and four assembly seats from the Congress, providing chief minister Narendra Modi the ammunition to target the UPA government and advance his own march towards New Delhi.

Even in BJP's most optimistic account, it expected to lose one Lok Sabha seat. The win has bolstered Modi's prime ministerial ambitions. But the sweep in Gujarat, which is anyway a stronghold of BJP and Modi, does not qualitatively change the national political scenario much.

In Bihar, with chief minister Nitish Kumar's handpicked NDA candidate PK Shahi losing to three-time RJD parliamentarian Prabhunath Singh by a margin of 1.10 lakh votes in Maharajganj Lok Sabha by poll, Janata Dal (U) tasted its first defeat since it swept the state assembly elections in 2005.

The win comes as a morale booster to the RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who is looking to make a strong comeback to state and national politics on an anti-Nitish stand.

One could argue that Modi has won in Bihar too. How? JDU-BJP friction is rooted in Nitish's disapproval of Modi as PM candidate.

Ever since Nitish took a hostile posturing towards the BJP, the upper castes in Bihar have become restive. The huge margin by which Nitish's candidate lost - who himself is an upper caste Bhumihar - is indicative of Bihar's political wind. In fact, the JDU candidate blamed the BJP for his defeat.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) retained the Howrah LS constituency. Its candidate Prasun Banerjee defeated his nearest rival Sridip Bhattacharya of the CPI (M) by 27,015 votes, a slimmer margin compared to 37,000 votes in 2009 LS polls.

For chief minister Mamata Banarjee, the narrow victory of her candidate is a warning signal of her declining popularity. She is in close contest with UP's Akhilesh Yadav to lose popularity fast, both starting with massive public support and going downhill soon after.

(With inputs from Kolkata and Patna)

First Published: Jun 05, 2013 19:57 IST