There is no difference of north and south. It did not matter whether the states had party’s own government or coalition governments with other parties or governments of the opposition parties. All had one message. An indication before 2019 elections. The results of by-elections have shaken the confidence of BJP. The by-elections clearly showed that the opposition parties are organizing and coming together. The results revealed BJP losing its own votes. It also became very clear that allies are turning away from it. In fact, there is no need to take the by-elections seriously. Usually voters give their verdict in favour of the parties in power. However, these by-elections were special. People gave their verdict in four Lok Sabha and 11 Assembly constituencies. These elections in different states were like feeling the pulse of voters in the country. The by-elections were diverse as they were held in states ruled by BJP, states ruled by Congress and also in states where regional parties have their governments. From Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra to Kerala and Karnataka, it was an opportunity to feel the pulse of voters.
In 2014, BJP had won 104 out of 120 seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Alarm bells have started ringing for BJP in these crucial states. The victory in UP was unprecedented. BJP had bagged 71 out of 80 seats while the allies had won two seats. Later in the Assembly elections, BJP won 325 seats to get three-fourth majority. In that state, BJP suffered series of setbacks during last four to six months. It had to bite the dust in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats represented by the chief minister and the deputy chief minister. Now it suffered third defeat in Khairana. These defeats are not limited to these constituencies. Analysts say anti-BJP wave is sweeping across UP. Gorkhpur and Phulpur are in eastern UP while Khairana is in western UP. Earlier, SP and BSP joined hands to defeat BJP. This time, RLD and Congress also joined the ranks. Earlier, BJP had polled 51 percent votes in Khairana. That majority was enough to defeat all other parties. This time it fell drastically to defeat the party. BJP is getting isolated.
Coalition governments with BJP are failing to win elections. It is being said that the allies may not join hands with it in future. Feeling that there is none in the country to match BJP, JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar had joined hands with Modi in Bihar. In this state, RJD led by Lalu Prasad Yadav is becoming stronger while JD (U) is weakening. Last two by-elections have made this clear. JD (U) lost one seat to RJD. Though Shiv Sena and BJP are partners in coalition government in Maharashtra, they are fighting each other. Telugu Desam Party has already distanced itself. The chances of Shiv Sena fighting 2019 elections in alliance with BJP are bleak. The ties with Akali Dal are weakening. The alliances formed in north eastern states due to necessity are facing problems. Once the ruling party at the Centre weakens, it will be only a matter of time for alliances in states to crumble.
In West Bengal, Punjab and Kerala ruling parties Trinamool, Congress and the Left Parties won these by-elections. However, BJP could not show this performance in states ruled by it. BJP failed in its attempt to form government in Karnataka but it claimed that the people’s verdict was in its favour. It accused JD (S) and Congress of indulging in opportunistic politics. However, Congress party won RR Nagar by-elections with huge majority. If people had real sympathy for BJP and if they felt that injustice was done to the party by removing it from power, they would have voted for BJP in this by-election. The result of this by-election boosted the morale of Congress-JD (S) coalition government. In Kerala, BJP lost 10 percent of the votes it secured in the past. Overall, these by-elections have changed the political calculation. For four years, BJP’s majority continued in Lok Sabha without depending on any other party. After these by-elections, there is danger of BJP losing its majority. Though it is the single largest party, it may have to depend on allies in case of any crisis. This is a big challenge for Modi and Amit Shah.