In a setback to the BJP, the Congress registered an impressive victory in three by-elections in Rajasthan, while the Trinamool Congress won two bypolls in West Bengal.
The Congress wrested the Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats and the Mandalgarh Assembly seat from the ruling BJP in Rajasthan with huge margins.
The Trinamool won the Uluberia Lok Sabha and Noapara Assembly constituencies. The parliamentary seat was held by it and the Assembly seat by the Congress.
In Alwar, Karan Singh Yadav of the Congress defeated the BJP’s Jaswant Yadav by a margin of 1,96,496 votes, while Congress candidate Raghu Sharma defeated his BJP rival Ramswarup Lamba in Ajmer by 84,414 votes.
In the Mandalgarh Assembly constituency, the Congress’s Vivek Dhakar trounced the BJP’s Shakti Singh Hada by 12,976 votes.
With Rajasthan due to hold Assembly elections in a few months, a resurgent Congress will pose a serious challenge to the BJP. The party’s victory in the by-elections, being touted as the “semi-finals,” is being interpreted as a “people’s verdict” against the Vasundhara Raje government’s “failure and arrogance.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the party’s impressive show and called the outcome a “rejection” of the BJP by the people. “Well done Rajasthan Congress! Proud of each and every one of you. This is a rejection of the BJP by the people of Rajasthan,” he tweeted.
Hundreds of Congress workers burst firecrackers and distributed sweets outside the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters in Jaipur as the trends became clear.
State Congress president Sachin Pilot, who stayed in Ajmer and criss-crossed the three constituencies during electioneering, was carried inside the building on the shoulders of jubilant party workers.
The bypolls were necessitated after the death of Alwar MP Mahant Chand Nath, Ajmer MP Sanwar Lal Jat and Mandalgarh MLA Kirti Kumari last year.
Soon after the triumph, Mr. Pilot demanded Chief Minister Raje’s resignation on moral grounds. “The people have saved democracy by rejecting the BJP's policy of caste polarisation. Besides proving people’s faith in the Congress, this mandate is also against the Centre’s demonetisation, GST implementation and economic slowdown,” Mr. Pilot said at a press conference here.
Ms. Raje said, “I congratulate the winning candidates and welcome them to this celebration of democracy.”
BJP's good show in West Bengal
In contrast to the drubbing in the west, the BJP found solace in the east where it considerably increased its vote share. While TMC’s Uluberia candidate Sajda Ahmed won by a margin of 4.74 lakh votes, BJP candidate Anupam Mallick came second with 2.93 lakh votes and Left Front-supported CPI(M) candidate Sabiruddin Molla managed only 1.38 lakh votes