Saffron Setback: Making Sense of By-poll Results

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The by-polls to the UP Lok Sabha (and Vidhan Sabha seat in Bihar) took place on 11th March of which the results came on 14th March. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party supported by the BSP has won both the Lok Sabha seats of Phulpur and Gorakhpur which were previously held by Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Prasad Maurya, respectively. In the Araria Lok Sabha constituency of Bihar, BJP has been thwarted by the RJD. The BJP which maintained that these by-polls were a test run for 2019 stands red-faced

after the Hindutva policy maintained religiously by the Party and its notorious leader Yogi Adityanath failed to win two of the most important seats in Uttar Pradesh, which it had won comfortably in the 2014 general elections.

While losing Phulpur shouldn’t matter much to the BJP than to the INC (which once belonged to late PM Nehru), the result of Gorakhpur would have humiliated Yogi Adityanath as it was this constituency that got him elected to the Lok Sabha and that he maintained for 20 years until resigning to become the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh where Keshav Prasad Maurya along with Dinesh Sharma were also sworn in as deputy CMs.

If this is to be considered as the trailer of 2019 general elections then the picture seems very bad for the BJP.

The Dynamics of by-polls

There have been 16 by polls to different Lok Sabha constituencies which fell vacant for one or the other reasons. If one observes the pattern of the by-elections, every party has retained its constituency except for the BJP which has lost 4 to the INC and 2 to SP.

While the BJP has managed to form governments in 21 States after winning the Northeastern states of Tripura and Meghalaya, it is also true that the party is losing ground in Lok Sabha. This showcases wild predictions for 2019 general elections which might mean that the BJP may have to compromise with 200-230 seats. The predicament to form a government at the centre of the BJP led NDA would be that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah would have to impress and please its small partners as well as the major ones in the alliance. The NDA is getting weaker day by day if one looks at the recent conflict of Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu’s TDP with the NDA.


Table 1: By-elections (2014- Feb-2018) (Source: Election Commission)


S No State No. – Name of Constituency ECI Notification date Party elected in Previous Election Party Elected in By-election
1 West Bengal 14- Bangaon 12th Jan, 2015 TMC TMC
2 Madhya Pradesh 24- Ratlam 21st Oct, 2015 BJP INC
3 Telangana 15- Warangal 21st Oct, 2015 TRS TRS
4 Meghalaya 2- Tura 19th April, 2016 NPP NPP
5 Assam 14- Lakhimpur 17th Oct, 2016 BJP BJP
6 Madhya Pradesh 12- Shahdol 17th Oct, 2016 BJP BJP
7 West Bengal 1- Coochbehar 17th Oct, 2016 TMC TMC
8 West Bengal 30- Tamluk 17th Oct, 2016 TMC TMC
9 Punjab 2- Amritsar 6th Jan, 2017 INC INC
10 Punjab 1- Gurdaspur 12th Sept, 2017 BJP INC
11 Rajasthan 8- Alwar 28th Dec, 2017 BJP INC
12 Rajasthan 13- Ajmer 28th Dec, 2017 BJP INC
13 West Bengal 26- Uluberia 28th Dec, 2017 TMC TMC
14 Uttar Pradesh 64- Gorakhpur 9th Feb, 2018 BJP SP
15 Uttar Pradesh 51- Phulpur 9th Feb, 2018 BJP SP
16 Bihar 9- Araria 9th Feb, 2018 RJD RJD
17 J&K Anantnag TBD PDP TBA
18 Maharashtra Gondia TBD BJP TBA
19 Maharashtra Palgarh TBD BJP TBA


(Table 1 shows the by-elections which happened after 2014 General Elections to the Lok Sabha. While the BJP has managed to win and rule 21 states since 2013 now, however, the by-elections to Lok Sabha describe a different story. Till March 14th, 9 states and its 16 constituencies have undergone by-elections. Every Party has conveniently retained its seat which fell vacant after one or the other reasons except for the BJP which has lost 6. As of 14th March 2018, three seats in Lok Sabha are vacant.)

Many other partners seem upset with the grand coalition. This just might mean that Narendra Modi’s NDA may have an ‘India Shining’ end like that of Vajpayee’s NDA.

But then if that happens, in that scenario the BJP led NDA fails to form a government, it is also unlikely that the INC led UPA would come back to power. It then would boil down to the regional parties and they will have a substantial say and have probably, a chance to either form a government or be a part of it. If the regional parties decide to let go of the opportunity as well, it might result in a hung parliament.

What good will that do, however, for India’s entry to the third decade of the 21st century is anyone’s guess. With USA’s pre-occupation with North Korea and India’s with Pakistan, China is playing tactics that is capable of shaking the entire International structure of power.

With a weak government who would imagine to push China to back off with its harmful border beliefs and policies. The Indian citizen will have to vote judiciously thinking about the future of the country. If the country, however, is kept occupied by irrelevant discussions of Hindu Muslim, love jihad, bathtub deaths etc in the national media and if we continue to degrade our level of debate and discussions, India is only going to go down on its knees when challenges of development, growth, jobs, education, security, demographics etc. come knocking our doors.

Author: Toshan Chandrakar 

Author is a law student from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur (Chhattisgarh). 


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