Bypolls boost Narendra Modi, stump Congress and jolt Nitish Kumar   Leave a comment

 Lok Sabha and assembly by-poll results in four states offer no cheer to Congress, deliver a boost to Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, bring succour to Trinamool Congress leaderMamata Banerjee and present Bihar CM Nitish Kumar with a reality check.

Wednesday’s standout result was BJP’s clean sweep of two Lok Sabha and six assembly seats in Gujarat. Modi immediately hailed the victories as a signal that Congress’s time in office is up. As the assembly seats were held by Congress, they amplify BJP’s success.

Congress’s continued poor run will give the Opposition a leg up ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament where it may be even less inclined to cooperate with the government. Poor results shrink Congress’s political capital, impacting its capacity for unilateralism.

The ruling party may not have the stomach for bold decisions on issues like Telangana and reforms as it will now have to concentrate on crucial elections in major states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Now, BJP holds 17 of Gujarat’s 26 Lok Sabha seats and the results are bound to resonate at the meeting of the party’s national executive in Goa over the weekend where the debate over projecting Modi as PM is likely to crop up.

Congress turncoat Vitthal Radadia’s thumping win in Porbandar, the home town of Congress state chief Arjun Modhwadia, points to the party’s reduced fortunes. Spurred by a rising hype over Modi, BJP has reiterated its dominance in Gujarat.

Interestingly, both Modi and Kumar were in Delhi on Wednesday at a meeting of CMs where they did not exchange a word. The Bihar CM did not offer any reaction to rival RJD retaining the Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat with a 137,000-vote margin.

RJD nominee Prabhunath Singh’s win is seen as a cause for some concern for Kumar, although the seat had been held by the rival camp. In 2009, RJD had just about managed to scrape through on less than 3,000 votes.

It may, however, be premature to read the Bihar result solely as a consequence of Kumar’s growing estrangement with the BJP. The constituency has a good presence of upper castes with Rajputs backing the RJD nominee. The area is also influenced by controversial former MP Shahbuddin and Yadavs continue to back Lalu Prasad.

In fact, some observers maintain, Janata Dal (U) might have benefitted had BJP put up a candidate as this could have split the Rajput and Bhumihar support for RJD in this election. On the whole, BJP is not seen to have been a significant factor in the result while Prabhunath Singh – a controversial leader – is a heavy weight.

The Maharajganj outcome may not influence Kumar’s resolve to leave NDA if Modi is projected as the PM as it is not seen a reflection of the JD(U)-BJP rift. But the results do underline the need for Kumar to account for discontent among influential caste groups like Bhumihars and tone up the state administration.

The failure of JD(U) candidate P K Shahi, a Bhumihar, to receive the support of his caste group indicates that Kumar will need to re-caliberate his election strategy to account for a four-cornered contest in which he must grab a sizable section of the minority vote.

The Bihar result brought cheer to Lalu Prasad, but this does not necessarily mean he is on the comeback trail. A more splintered vote where BJP puts up its nominee can spell trouble for him. At the same time, he can bask in his moment of success, particularly in the light of a large victory margin.

The Howrah Lok Sabha by-election indicates that Banerjee might be able to survive the break-up with the Congress, although the Trinamool Congress’s margin was reduced. Still, a 27,000 margin is respectable even if BJP was quick to claim its decision not to put up a candidate helped Trinamool win.

Almost all the results, barring a win in the Yavatmal assembly seat in Maharashtra, offer only bleak news for the Congress. It barely won 22,000 vote in Maharajganj and was relegated to the fourth position in Handia assembly in Allahabad, where SP retained the seat.

The message for the Congress is that it continues to lose ground in major states while depending on a purely local situation for its odd successes. The stunning reverse in Gujarat highlights that Congress lacks any counter to Modi.

As it approaches the next Lok Sabha election, Congress leaders will worry that 10 years of UPA have ended with Modi becoming the main challenger. The party may bank on Modi stampeding the minority vote in its direction, but if this calculation goes awry, Congress will find itself on a slippery path.


Posted June 6, 2013 by avinash2060 in Battle for 7 RCR

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