The BJP won four out of seven Assembly bypolls held across six States, for which results were declared on Sunday. It also registered its presence in Telangana’s Munugode Assembly seat, where it lost to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi but still managed to get over 39 percent of votes, pushing the Congress to the third position.
Elections were held on November 3 for seven Assembly constituencies: Mokama and Gopalganj in Bihar, Andheri East in Maharashtra, Adampur in Haryana, Munugode in Telangana, Gola Gokarannath in Uttar Pradesh, and Dhamnagar in Odisha.
Out of the four seats the BJP won, three were in constituencies it already held. The only new addition to its tally was Adampur in Haryana, where former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s grandson Bhavya Bishnoi emerged victorious. The polls were necessitated here because of his father Kuldeep Bishnoi’s decision to defect from the Congress to the BJP. The Bhajan Lal family has never lost any election from this constituency since the creation of the State in 1966. The high voltage campaign was pitted as a battle between Congress satrap Bhupinder Singh Hooda versus the Bishnois. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is trying to establish itself as a national force, especially after its Punjab victory, got less than three percent of the votes cast in the constituency.
The BJP retained the Gopalganj assembly constituency in Bihar, where polls were necessitated by the death of the incumbent BJP MLA Subash Singh. The BJP fielded his widow. This is the party’s first electoral victory since the political realignment in the State when the Janata Dal (U), its ally of almost two decades, left it for the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Meanwhile, the ruling RJD retained the Mokama seat.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party fell short of posting a credible challenge to the BJP in the Gola Gokarannath constituency, with its candidate losing by a margin of over 35,000 votes. BJP had fielded 26-year old Aman Giri, son of its late legislator Arvind Giri, whose demise forced the bypoll. The Samajwadi Party repeated Vinay Tiwari, who lost bids for the seat in the 2017 and 2022 Assembly elections.
The BJP also retained the Dhamnagar seat in Odisha.
High voteshare in Telangana loss
More than these victories, however, the Munugode bypoll results gave the BJP a reason to rejoice. Although the party was defeated by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi by a margin of more than 10,000 votes, it managed to clock in over 38% of votes. This was its second significant electoral performance in Telangana after its November 2021 victory in the Huzurabad Assembly constituency where the TRS rebel Eatala Rajendran had won. These results should surely worry the Congress, which currently is the key Opposition party in the State, but was pushed to the third slot in the bypoll.
The Andheri East Assembly seat went to the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena. This was the first electoral test after the split in the party. The Thackeray faction fielded Rutuja Latke, the widow of the sitting Sena legislator whose death created the vacancy. However, the BJP candidate supported by the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena withdrew from the contest, giving Latke a walkover.