New Delhi: In a major boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been facing scathing attack from the Opposition for his sudden decision to scrap high-value currency notes, his party - BJP - won five out of the 14 seats in the bypolls held in six states and one Union Territory, the results of which were announced on Tuesday.
The bypolls were a litmus test for the BJP government that were held shortly after its demonetisation move, which the party successfully passed in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
While the BJP views the bypoll victories as a vindication of its stand on demonetisation, its bitter rival and worst critic in today's time – Trinamool Congress – too won big in its own state West Bengal.
BJP and Trinamool Congress shared the honours by winning two Lok Sabha seats each in as ruling parties in six states and Puducherry held sway in bypolls, retaining most of the 10 Assembly seats up for grabs.
In the Assembly bypolls held on November 19, results of which were declared on Tuesday, BJP and AIADMK won three seats each, CPI(M) got two while Congress and Trinamool bagged one each.
The AIADMK swept all three assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu and the ruling CPI-M-led Left Front in Tripura wrested one seat from the Congress and retained another. The Congress' lone success came in Puducherry.
Bypolls for the 10 assembly and four Lok Sabha constituencies in the states and Puducherry were held on Saturday.
In Madhya Pradesh, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Shahdol Lok Sabha and Nepanagar assembly seats defeating Congress candidates by huge margins. The BJP's Gyan Singh won from Shahdol and Manju Dadu from Nepanagar. The Congress came second in both places.
BJP candidate Pradan Baruah won the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat in Assam that was vacated by Sarbananda Sonowal after he became the Chief Minister. The ruling party's Mansing Rongpi won the Baithalangso assembly seat, where the Congress candidate, who had won in May, joined the BJP.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Desingu Pul, the wife of former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, who committed suicide in August, won from Hayuliang assembly constituency as a BJP candidate.
In West Bengal, Trinamool's Partha Pratim Roy won Cooch Behar while his party colleague Dibyendu Adhikari triumphed in Tamluk. Saikat Panja of the Trinamool won the Monteshwar seat.
The ruling AIADMK, which has also denounced the demonetisation, swept the by-polls in Tamil Nadu where elections were held for Thanjavur, Aravakurichi and Thirupparankundram assembly seats, whihc went to M. Rengasamy, Senthil Balaji and A.K. Bose respectively.
In Tripura, the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which has disparaged the government for spiking the currency, wrested the Barjala and retained the Khowai assembly seats.
CPI-M candidate Jhumu Sarkar defeated BJP's Shista Mohan Das, a former bureaucrat in Barjala, while Biswajit Datta trounced Trinamool's Manoj Das in Khowai. Congress candidates in both the seats came distant four.
In Puducherry, Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy won the Nellithope seat in a consolatory victory for the Congress.
Narayanasamy, who had to get elected to the house within six months of taking office, trounced his nearest AIADMK rival.
Reacting to the encouraging bypoll results, the outcome of the by-elections signalled people's enormous support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to scrap large currency notes in a move to curb black money and corruption.
"The people of India are with Modi," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said in the Lok Sabha.
However, firebrand West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a fierce critic of the government's demonetisation move that has led to a massive cash crunch, said her party's – Trinamool Congress - landslide victory signified "people's revolt" against New Delhi.
"People have revolted. This is symbolic. It is a vote against demonetisation. In a democracy, people vent their anger through votes," Banerjee said after the Trinamool won the Monteshwar assembly seat and Lok Sabha constituencies of Coochbehar and Tamluk.
All this comes at a time when a popular survey claimed that nearly 80-86 percent of the country's population back PM Modi's demonetisation move and the inconvenience caused is worth it. The nationwide survey conducted by C-Voter has suggested that 80-86 percent of those surveyed said that the inconvenience caused by demonetisation was worth the effort of combating black money.
The agency conducted its survey in close to half the total Parliamentary constituencies on Monday. The report said that the numbers remained consistently high when broken down on the basis of area of residence, income levels or by age groups.
86 percent of the respondents living in urban and rural areas said that the inconvenience was worth it.
While the BJP government has already ruled out a demonetisation rollback, the bypoll win and the encouraging findings of the recent survey is only likely to strengthen PM Modi's fight against corruption and black money.