As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost two Lok Sabha by-polls in UP and one in Bihar, the Congress said that the ruling party had ‘lost the simple majority in the Lok Sabha on its own’. The Congress said that the results gave a clear message that the people were angry with the BJP for its ‘arrogance and misrule’. Both YSR Congress and TDP have moved no-confidence motions against the BJP government and TDP has quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Considering the recent developments in the political circles and BJP’s defeats in the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar by-polls, could this be the beginning of the end of BJP’s rule at Centre?
The Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Lok Sabha and Assembly by-poll results gave a big blow to the BJP. The party, which is in power in both the states, lost four out of the five seats including the prestigious Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Gorakhpur seat, until recently, was represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had held the Phulpur seat.
The major reason to worry for the BJP was the fact that it was trounced by the BSP-backed Samajwadi Party in the high stake Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-polls, which could lead to a ‘grand alliance’ of opposition parties before the 2019 general elections. Since it is the question of their existence during the forthcoming general elections, they will join hands to keep BJP out of power. The Congress will also be forced to come into this fold with all major players.
Overconfidence may cost dearly
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that overconfidence and the inability to understand the understanding between SP and BSP were the prime reasons for the BJP’s defeat.
The chief minister, who has represented Gorakhpur in Lok Sabha five times, said local issues led to his party’s poor performance and not the policies of the Centre. Local issues dominated and voter turnout was also low, he added. “When general elections are held, there will be national issues. Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, there has been a sense of confidence which is prevailing in the country,” he said, adding that the party would review all aspects.
The Grand Alliance
Keeping aside 25 years of bitter and historic rivalry, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav drove to the residence of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati to thank her for the support to his party’s candidates in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. BSP’s support to SP candidates and their victory could lead to an alliance between the two rivals for the general elections in 2019.
The opposition parties said that the verdict reflected ‘public anger’ against BJP and that it was the ‘beginning of the end’ for the ruling party at the Centre.
While BJP’s estranged ally Shiv Sena said the results will give a boost to the opposition, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP said it showed that a united opposition can defeat the BJP-led regime. The NCP termed the BJP’s defeat as a ‘shape of things to come’.
The results of the by-elections in UP and Bihar will give a boost to the opposition, an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said, adding that people are now out of their ‘illusionary world’.
The Congress said that people across the country, angered by the BJP’s ‘arrogance and misrule’, were ‘showing it the door’. Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the outcomes showed that people were angry with the BJP and would vote for any non-BJP candidate with the potential to win.
RJD President Lalu Prasad, who is currently in jail following his conviction in the fodder scam cases, described his party’s victory in the Bihar by-polls as the ‘victory of truth over falsehood’.
Reduced strength in LS
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala claimed that the BJP government is down to 271, losing the simple majority in Lok Sabha minus its allies - considering the fact that PM Modi has suspended Kirti Azad and virtually disowned their most truthful, fiercely independent Patna Sahib MP.
However, the BJP has lost only seven seats in by-elections held so far in the past four years. According to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the BJP has 274 MPs in the Lower House, excluding the Speaker of the House. It remains to be seen whether the BJP succeeds in retaining the power in the wake of demonetisation and implementation of GST in the 2019 election. A possible formation of a Grand Alliance by anti-BJP parties may pave the way for the beginning of the end for BJP’s rule at the Centre.