NEW DELHI: Though the results of recent bypolls held in 4 Lok Sabha and 10 assembly seats came as a big shock for the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-powered BJP, the saffron party still has a majority in the Lok Sabha. The BJP, which retained just one out of three seats in the Lok Sabha bypolls, has a wafer-thin majority now with its effective strength standing at 272 in the 539-member House.
The Lok Sabha has 543 elected members but its four seats are unrepresented. While three MPs from Karnataka resigned, the Anantnag seat in Kashmir is lying vacant after the bypoll was deferred indefinitely in May last year. It brings the majority mark down to 270.
However, for all practical purposes, the BJP's strength is 274 as two nominated members also belong to it. Counting them, the BJP has three members more than the 271 it needs to have a majority in 541-member House.
Due to losses in a number of by-polls, including in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the BJP's strength has come down in the Lok Sabha after it won 282 seats in the 2014 general elections.
However, it makes little difference to the government as the BJP-led NDA has around 315 seats.
By-polls to four Lok Sabha seats were held on May 28. The BJP had won three of them in the general elections but could manage to retain only one, losing one each in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. However, its ally NDPP won in Nagaland parliamentary constituency.
Ahead of next year's general elections, a united opposition got a major boost when it delivered a huge blow to the BJP, defeating it in the Kairana Lok Sabha by-election in Uttar Pradesh and Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra while the saffron party managed to retain the Palghar parliamentary seat, its ally Nagaland Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) won the Nagaland Lok Sabha constituency seat.
The biggest shock for the ruling BJP came from Kairana - a seat the BJP won in 2014 - where the opposition had put up a common candidate. Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate Tabassum Hasan, supported by the Congress, the SP and the BSP, trounced the BJP's Mriganka Singh in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh by over 55,000 votes. Elections were necessitated in Kairana after the seat fell vacant in February following the death of BJP leader Hukum Singh. The BJP had fielded Mriganka Singh, daughter of Hukum Singh, from this seat.
Along with the Kairana reverse, the BJP also suffered the ignominy of losing the Noorpur Assembly seat to the Samajwadi Party in the by election in Uttar Pradesh. Samajwadi candidate Naimul Hassan defeated BJP's Avani Singh by over 6,200 votes.
The Kairana defeat for the BJP comes on top of the failure to retain Gorakhpur and Phulpur in the by-elections in March this year in which the Samajwadi candidates, with the backing of BSP, had defeated BJP candidates.
In Palghar Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win came in a triangular fight in which the candidate of its sulking ally, the Shiv Sena, cornered a considerable chunk of votes. BJP's Rajendra Gavit defeated Shiv Sena's Srinivas Wanga by over 29,500 votes.
Though the BJP won the Palghar seat, its candidate Hemant Patel had to bite the dust in the Bhandara-Gondiya seat in the state with the NCP's Madhukar Kukde snatching the constituency that was won by the BJP in the 2014 poll. The Congress supported the NCP candidate in the current by poll. Kukde defeated Patel by over 45,000 votes.
Out of the four Lok Sabha constituencies that voted on May 24, the Nagaland Lok Sabha constituency returned the candidate of the ruling Nagaland Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a BJP ally, who defeated the Naga People's Front (NPF) candidate. NDPP candidate Tokheho Yepthomi defeated NPF's C Apok Jamir by 173,746 votes. NPF, a former BJP ally, had won the seat in 2014.
The BJP along with its allies had swept 73 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 general elections and won an overwhelming 312 seats out of a total 423 in the state assembly elections last year.
Today's results also point towards the strengthening of a non-BJP alliance in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the need for the saffron party to devise new strategies to counter the Opposition unity.