New Delhi: The results for four Lok Sabha and 11 Assembly polls came in on Thursday. All that the ruling BJP managed to win was the Palghar Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra and the Tharali Assembly seat in Uttarakhand. While BJP president Amit Shah may have said that losing bypolls was a minor blip as compared to winning state and general elections, the stakes are nevertheless high for the party.
In Western UP’s Kairana, the party lost its seat to the RLD, which had the strength of a united opposition behind it. In Maharashtra, it managed to retain the Palghar Lok Sabha seat but lost the Bhandara-Gondia seat to the NCP. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance received some solace on Thursday as the NDPP won the Nagaland Lok Sabha seat.The BJP’s performance, since its historic win in the 2014 General Election, in all Lok Sabha bypolls over the last four years has been underwhelming. The saffron party has only managed to win 5 out of 27 Lok Sabha bypolls held between 2014 and March 2018.
In contrast, the Congress has also won 5 of these Lok Sabha battles. But of these five seats, the Congress retained the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat and wrested all the other from the BJP’s kitty. The Congress and the BJP are followed by the TMC (4), in terms of Lok Sabha bypolls won in the last four years.
Of the 27 Lok Sabha seats that had bypolls since 2014, 13 were previously held by the BJP. None of the five victories have been in seats where the party has previously not held power. Two of BJP’s wins came in 2014, the year Narendra Modi won his historic mandate, and the other two came in 2016. In 2015 and 2017, the BJP did not win a single Lok Sabha bypoll. This year, till May, the BJP has won just the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll.
In 2014, bye-elections to the Lok Sabha were held in five constituencies. All five seats were retained by the respective parties that had won them in the General Election. The BJP retained Maharashtra’s Beed and Gujarat’s Vadodara, which Modi had won and vacated in 2014. The BJD retained the seat of Kandhamal in Odisha, the SP retained UP’s Mainpuri and the TRS managed to hold the seat of Medak in Andhra Pradesh.
2015, however, saw a slight reversal of sorts with the BJP losing the Ratlam Constituency in Madhya Pradesh, which it won in 2014, to the Congress. On the other hand, the TRS held the Warangal seat while the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) held onto the Bangaon seat in West Bengal.
The party performed better in 2016, when it retained the Lakhimpur seat in Assam and the Shahdol seat in Madhya Pradesh. However, it failed to wrest the TMC’s strongholds of Coochbehar and Tamluk in West Bengal. In the Tura Lok Sabha bypoll, the BJP’s Meghalaya unit chose not to contest the polls and instead, supported the NPP, which won the election.
2017, however, began as a bad year for the BJP. The party lost two Lok Sabha bypolls in Punjab. In Amritsar, the Congress managed to retain the seat while in Gurdaspur, it wrested a seat that the BJP had won four times. In Kerala, too, the party lost the Malappuram Lok Sabha bypoll and in Srinagar, its ally PDP lost its seat to NC’s Farooq Abdullah.
The big streak of losses for the BJP, however, began in 2018. Of the 8 seats which previously had BJP MPs, 6 have been lost in the last few months. In February, the party lost its Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan’s Ajmer and Alwar to the Congress. It also failed to defeat the TMC in West Bengal’s Uluberia. The losses in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in March took the number of seats the BJP has ceded to six. The party also lost in the Araria bypoll in Bihar to the RJD. This month, three BJP-controlled seats went to polls. Out of Palghar, Bhandara-Gondia and Kairana, the party retained just Palghar.
Other parties, however, have fared better at retaining their respective seats. The BJD, SP, Congress, NPP and Muslim League each had one of its seat fall vacant. All five parties managed to retain their seats. The TRS had two of its seats go to bypolls and it held both seats. The best strike rate of all, however, belonged to the Trinamool Congress. Four seats from West Bengal, all of which previously had MPs from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party, went to polls between 2014 and 2018. The TMC retained all four seats.
The only parties that have failed to retain their seats over the last four years are the BJP, which lost six Lok Sabha seats, and its allies the PDP and NPF, which lost one seat. The BJP has lost four of its previous seats to the Congress, two to the SP and one each to the NCP and RLD.