Thursday, October 29, 2020
Home Opinions BJP's by-poll conundrum : Of victory, loss, lessons to be learnt and the road...

BJP’s by-poll conundrum : Of victory, loss, lessons to be learnt and the road ahead

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a net loser in the by-polls, which were held on May 28th and the results of which were declared on May 31st. The party has had a bad by-poll record for a while now – OpIndia had covered the details earlier in February.

Four distinct themes emerge from the May 31st results for the party.

The Uttar Pradesh debacle, or was it?

BJP lost the Kairana Lok Sabha seat to the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Noorpur Vidhan Sabha seat to the Samajwadi Party.

BJP had won Kairana only twice – once in 1998 and then in 2014. In 2014, the BJP MP Hukum Singh won the seat with a 50.5% vote share, when the voter turnout exceeded 73%. It was then a four-cornered fight. In the 2017 assembly election, BJP still retained the constituency across its assembly segments in a five-cornered fight, but the vote share fell to 40%.

In 2018, BJP got 45.7% vote while the combined opposition won. The voter turnout was only 54%. The BJP voters did not turn up or the party did not work hard enough to ensure their voters left their houses to vote. Either way, the party can take solace in the fact that the lower turnout did it in.

The details of votes across elections below, taken from the Twitter feed of @wordofthefree.

The same analysis for Noorpur depicts that BJP was a beneficiary of vote split both in 2014 and in 2017. This was not a core BJP seat. Despite this, the party actually improved its vote tally significantly over last year’s state elections. The turnout for this assembly segment reduced from 67% to 61% between 2017 and now. The loss margin of 5.6K votes is not a big one.

The UP results hence do not imply a BJP meltdown in the state. In fact, the party should be more worried about the Gorakhpur by-poll loss than what happened on May 31st. Sujoy Ghosh has covered great details in this articles already.

The Maharashtra story – Importance of marginal seats

Two Lok Sabha seats – Palghar and Bhandara-Gondia polled in Maharashtra. The BJP was widely expected to lose Palghar, but retain Bhandara-Gondia in a close contest. The results were the other way round.

The BJP won Palghar in a multi-cornered fight overcoming the challenge of Shiv Sena, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi – a local strongman party, Communists, and the Congress. It was a narrow win, but it cemented the credentials of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis further, who has had an impeccable electoral track record through his term.

The loss of Bhandara-Gondia however, poses a question mark. This seat, carved out after the 2008-09 delimitation, is a classic example of “cherry on the top” seats for the BJP. It is not the traditional strong party but can punch beyond its weight, as it did in 2014. Amidst very poor turnout – in the mid-40s – the BJP lost the seat by about 40K votes.

The lesson from Maharashtra is perhaps more important than the one from the Uttar Pradesh. Firstly, the BJP has to identify all marginal seats which it won (and lost) in 2014. There has to be a constituency-wise strategy for each seat for 2019, over and above the Modi factor which will be at work in the main Lok Sabha election.

Secondly, between BJP and Shiv Sena, the alliance can completely sweep the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. But will the Shiv Sena play ball? Its chief, Uddhav Thackeray has been belligerent and reiterated his resolve of going alone after the by-poll results. Fadnavis and Union Minister Hansraj Ahir, on the other hand, spoke cautiously and expressed hope that the alliance will not crack. In fact, BJP President Amit Shah himself had said a few days ago that he hopes to keep the alliance intact. It will now be again up to Fadnavis to firm and resurrect the Shiv Sena alliance. The big question is what price Thackeray will extract to change his mind.

The problem of maintaining allies

Through this Narendra Modi term, the BJP has had trouble with managing its allies. The problems with the allies were the other big story of the by-polls.

Shiromani Akali Dal collapsed in Shahkot, where Congress took a big lead of 38K on a seat won by its rival just last year.

With confusion prevailing on a tie-up with All Jharkhand Students Union, the BJP lost the opportunity in both Jharkhand seats. In Gomia, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha retained the seat with about 39% vote share. The BJP and AJSU combined polled much higher than JMM. In Silli, JMM again won against the AJSU. Though BJP didn’t contest this seat, the alliance indecision prevailed for a while.

In Bihar, the Janata Dal United (JDU) lost its Jokihat seat to the Rashtriya Janata Dal of Lalu Prasad Yadav. The JDU spokesperson Pavan Varma lashed out at the BJP after the results calling for the party to live through its alliance dharma.

The BJP has a problem at its hand managing allies. It had done an excellent job in this department during the 2014 Lok Sabha election and in subsequent state elections, carving out several niche and useful tie-ups. If the party continues to weaken, the potential 2019 allies will play hardball. This will suck a lot of management bandwidth as the polls near.

Knocking on new doors, but they are not opening

West Bengal and Kerala are the two states which the BJP is concentrating in a big way for 2019 Lok Sabha polls. One seat each from these states went to the by-polls.

In Maheshtala in West Bengal, the BJP increased its vote share from 7.7% to 24%, but the Trinamool won easily with a 59% vote share. The BJP has grown remarkably in the state, and 25% now seems to be the base for the party in many areas. But if there is a grand Trinamool – Congress – Communist alliance for 2019, the BJP will have very little chance of winning any seats in the state. Even otherwise, it will need to go from 25% to 45% quickly to make a dent in the Lok Sabha polls. This journey, at least in some seats, has to be taken up rapidly.

In Kerala, BJP polled almost 23% votes in Chengannur, but it was not sufficient to depose the Congress as the runners-up. The Communists won the seat easily with almost 45% votes. Like in West Bengal, the BJP has to focus on a few constituencies where it can ramp up its vote share to mid-forties. The task is of course much difficult in Kerala than in West Bengal.

The by-poll results leave a lot for the BJP to mull over. The party has created very strong state networks, but Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have to find ways to enthuse this cadre at the same level of 2014.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Aashish Chandorkar
Bollywood, Business, Cricket, Economics, Finance, F1, Football, Indore, Politics, Pune, Technology.

Related Articles

Trending now

Former PM of Malaysia goes from talking about women’s ‘secret place’ to inciting genocide for insulting Islam in single tweet thread: Read details

Mahathir Mohamad justified the attacks on French people by Islamist terrorist saying that mere boycott could not compensate the wrongs of France.

‘We are proud’: Terroristan admits hand in Pulwama attack, minister claims victory of people under leadership of Imran ‘Taliban’ Khan

"Humne Hindustan ko ghus ke maara", Pakistani minister Fawad Chaudhry described how Pakistan orchestrated Pulwama terror attack

After Nice, another Islamic terrorist shouting Allahu Akbar attacks France’s Avignon, guard at French embassy in Jeddah attacked too

Three attacks have been reported in a single day, Mayor of Nice in France asks people to unit against "Islamofascisim terrorist attack"

Mumbai police intensifies witch-hunt, now wants details that would give him almost unfettered access to the Republic TV newsroom: Read details

Mumbai police have demanded access to the newsroom of the channel including the contact details, addresses and login IDs of journalists.

Witch-hunt continues: Parambir Singh sues Goa Chronicle and RVS Mani, wants to know if portal made money by publishing interview ‘defaming him’

RV Subramani had said in Goa Chronicle that a corporate house was behind appointment of Param Bir SIngh as Mumbai police commissioner

Why is Europe locking down instead of copying globally famous Kerala model?

The state of Kerala, under the visionary leadership of health minister Shailaja “Teacher” has a solution to Covid-19. Why wouldn’t the world just copy the Kerala model?

Recently Popular

Chinese state-run channel shows the portrait of Prophet Muhammad, netizens ask if Muslim nations will boycott China

Arslan Hidayat, an Uyghur Rights Activist, took to Twitter shared a video of a Chinese TV series on Twitter in which it was depicted that an Arab ambassador visiting China during the rule of Tang dynasty gifts a portrait of the Prophet Muhammad to the Chinese emperor.

Charlie Hebdo mocks Turkish President Recep Erdogan in its latest cartoons, shows him lifting a skirt of woman wearing ‘hijab’

The front-page caricature of Wednesday's edition of Charlie Hebdo that was released online on Tuesday night depicts Erdogan in a white T-shirt and underpants, drinking a can of beer and lifting up the skirt of a woman wearing a hijab to reveal her naked bottom.

Watch: Pro-India accounts disrupt Pakistan’s anti-India online meeting on Zoom, play pro-Hindu and Indian nationalistic songs

Indic social media users caused embarrassment to Pakistani authorities and diplomats after they raided their online event on zoom

‘Modi, Modi’ slogans inside Pakistan National Assembly: Here is what happened

The name of PM Modi echoed on Monday as members of Pakistan's opposition members chanted 'Modi, Modi' slogans inside Pakistan National assembly

Nikita Tomar murder: Taufeeq was pressurising her to embrace Islam family alleges

On Monday, 21-year-old Nikita Tomar was shot to death in broad daylight outside the Aggarwal college in Ballabgarh, Faridabad

Nikita Tomar murder: Main accused Tauseef belongs to a family of influential Congress politicians from Nuh in Haryana

The prime accused Tauseef's grandfather, uncles and cousin brothers are all infuential Congress politicians from Haryana's Nuh
- Advertisement -

The Print columnist Zainab Sikander Siddiqui wants Charlie Hebdo to have the “guts” to mock the Holocaust if it wants to publish cartoons on...

Zainab Sikander Siddiqui ruled that Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking other religions are not offensive, only cartoons on Islam are offensive

NBSA summons Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary for “divisive” report on the different types of Jihad, says it targets the Muslim community

NBSA asked Zee News Editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary to appear for a hearing on November 26 via video conferencing

Former PM of Malaysia goes from talking about women’s ‘secret place’ to inciting genocide for insulting Islam in single tweet thread: Read details

Mahathir Mohamad justified the attacks on French people by Islamist terrorist saying that mere boycott could not compensate the wrongs of France.

AajTak, Zee News and others apologise after NBSA pulls up the channels for spreading fake news on Sushant Singh Rajput’s death

AajTak, Zee News and India TV air apology for its insensitive and sensationalised reporting of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death

India objects to Saudi Arabia over distorted map of India on new 20 Riyal banknote, asks to take urgent corrective steps

India registered objection over a distorted map showing Jammu and Kashmir separated from India in newly released 20 Riyal banknote

While Uddhav Thackeray govt stalled a development project to ‘save Aarey’, Shiv Sena-led BMC has now been fined for letting untreated sewage into the...

NGT has slapped Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a fine Rs 34 crore for letting untreated sewage into water

‘We are proud’: Terroristan admits hand in Pulwama attack, minister claims victory of people under leadership of Imran ‘Taliban’ Khan

"Humne Hindustan ko ghus ke maara", Pakistani minister Fawad Chaudhry described how Pakistan orchestrated Pulwama terror attack

After Nice, another Islamic terrorist shouting Allahu Akbar attacks France’s Avignon, guard at French embassy in Jeddah attacked too

Three attacks have been reported in a single day, Mayor of Nice in France asks people to unit against "Islamofascisim terrorist attack"

Mumbai police intensifies witch-hunt, now wants details that would give him almost unfettered access to the Republic TV newsroom: Read details

Mumbai police have demanded access to the newsroom of the channel including the contact details, addresses and login IDs of journalists.

Witch-hunt continues: Parambir Singh sues Goa Chronicle and RVS Mani, wants to know if portal made money by publishing interview ‘defaming him’

RV Subramani had said in Goa Chronicle that a corporate house was behind appointment of Param Bir SIngh as Mumbai police commissioner

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
471,039FollowersFollow
19,500SubscribersSubscribe