NEW DELHI: Ahead of next year's general elections, a united opposition got a major boost on Thursday when it delivered a huge blow to the BJP, defeating it in three out of four Lok Sabha seats and nine out of ten assembly seats, the results of which were announced on Thursday.
The BJP was defeated 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 NDPP won the Nagaland Lok Sabha seat.
Of the 10 assembly seats where by-polls were held last Thursday, the BJP scored just one in Uttarakhand (Tharali) while the Congress won Punjab's Shahkot, Karnataka's RR Nagar and Meghalaya's Ampati that made it the single largest party in the northeastern state. The Trinamool Congress won the Maheshtala seat in West Bengal while the CPI-M candidate defeated a Congress rival in Kerala's Chengannur.
Jailed politician Lalu Prasad's RJD defeated the ruling BJP and JDU's joint candidate in Bihar's Jokihat assembly seat where it was more of a battle of prestige for the former allies - the RJD and the JDU. RJD's Shahnawaz Alam beat the JDU candidate by over 41,000 votes. The Jokihat assembly seat was left vacant after the sitting JDU lawmaker quit the party and joined the RJD following Nitish Kumar's decision to go with the BJP last year.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha bagged both the assembly seats of Silli and Gomia in the state.
The unprecedented results evoked sharp reactions from the both the BJP which said that it needs to contemplate on shocking results and a united opposition which said that it was ''the beginning of saffron party's end''. Here are some of those reactions.
The Telugu Desam Party, a former ally of the BJP, today said the results of the byelections to four Lok Sabha and 11 assembly seats were a "slap" on the face of the saffron party over the "anti-people" policies of the Narendra Modi government.
"The BJPs drubbing is a clear reflection of the mood of the nation. The Modi era is going to end in just five years," TDP politburo member and Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said in a statement. "The fall of BJP started with Karnataka and the by-elections were the second part of it. Its losing streak will be complete with the 2019 general elections," the TDP politburo member said.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday said the victory of the combined opposition candidates in the Kairana Lok Sabha and Noorpur Assembly by-elections is a "befitting" reply to the BJP and those who sought to divide the country.
"I want to congratulate all the people, farmers, Dalits etc. who voted for us. This is a defeat for those who do not believe in democracy. People have given a befitting reply to the BJP. The people who were trying to divide the nation have got a befitting reply," the former Chief Minister told reporters here. He said that people of the state have taught the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a lesson for "betraying" on all the poll promises.
The NCP today said its success in the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha by-poll in Maharashtra was an expression of people's resentment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dictatorial way of functioning. Madhukar Kukade of the NCP defeated BJP's Hemant Patle in Bhandara-Gondiya.
"This is a vote against Modi's dictatorship," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said here. He blamed the BJP's victory in Palghar Lok Sabha by-election on the division of votes.
Had the Congress extended support to the Bahujan Vikas Agadhi, the BJP wouldn't have won in Palghar too, Malik said. "BJP misused power and the government machinery and spent a lot of money to win the by-poll," he alleged.
"If you look at today's four Lok Sabha by-poll results, BJP could not win anywhere except in Palghar. The assembly by-election results also show that it is the beginning of the end for BJP," the NCP spokesperson said.
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that people are "disenchanted" with the BJP and the federal front formula she proposed was a success in the bypolls in 11 states. "The regional parties, the Federal Front is now very strong in the country," she told reporters. "Before the Lok Sabha polls, it (by-poll results) is a signal. For the BJP it is a bad omen," she said.
Banerjee previously advocated a one-to-one electoral contest against the BJP.
"It is a lesson for regional parties. The (federal front) formula is successful. The people are disenchanted (with the BJP). In politics, one cannot achieve everything by force", she said.
People do not like communal forces, she said, adding, "We understood what people want".
Janata Dal United
The JD(U) today cautioned the BJP following reverses in the bypoll results today, saying the saffron party should make the ruling NDA coalition more "cohesive" and address "concerns" over issues related to farmers and Dalits, as well as the petroleum price rise.
JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said the biggest challenge for the BJP was in Uttar Pradesh, where the coming together of two formidable regional parties --the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party -- have trumped the saffron party in recent bypolls. Asked by reporters if the UP results were a win of 'ganna' (sugarcane) over Jinnah, he answered in the affirmative and said thousands of crores are still due to sugarcane farmers.
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary, whose party candidate wrested the Kairana Lok Sabha seat from BJP in the by-election, on Thursday said that the united opposition had succeeded in halting the saffron party's "chariot of hate" in Uttar Pradesh.
"The BJP is used to high-decibel and high-voltage campaign. They use the media and are visible in all forums. They use all the strength at their command to win elections by any means and the nation saw how Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a public meeting in neighbouring Baghpat on Sunday to influence voters here. The Chief Minister and Deputy Minister, MPs and MLAs were all here to rake up the agenda of riots. But the people did not accept it. Their agenda has been rejected," Chaudhary said.
He hoped the combined opposition would keep its momentum to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections next year.
"I am confident that RLD will play a role in how to carry forward the opposition unity and alliance and ensure we give an alternative to BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Whatever the alliance, we will play a positive role," he told reporters.
After conceding defeat to the BJP in Palghar Lok Sabha constituency, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday took a jibe at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for campaigning in Maharashtra despite losing in his own constituency."Yogi Adityanath is losing in his own state and he is coming to campaign here (Maharashtra). Janta ne Yogi ji ki masti utaardi hai," Thackeray said while addressing a press conference here. However, the Shiv Sena Chief dodged questions regarding a withdrawal from the alliance with the BJP. "You people are asking the same question again and again. But my concern is regarding democracy, and people should understand the seriousness of this," he said.
With the BJP facing reverses in bypolls to Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said one has to take two steps backwards before a big leap. Asked about the BJP's performance in the by-elections to 11 Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats in various states ahead of next year's general polls, Singh, in a lighter vein, said, "For a massive leap, one always has to go two steps backwards." "We are going to take a massive leap," the senior BJP leader said.