The original version of the article was published on November 10th in “The Daily Guardian”
By-elections for 30 state assemblies and three Lok Sabha seats were held on 30 October 2021. Of three Lok Sabha bypolls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in Madhya Pradesh. The party lost the Mandi seat in Himachal Pradesh, which it had won in 2019 by a whopping margin of four lakh votes. The Lok Sabha seat of Dadra and Nagar Haveli was won by the Shiv Sena. While overall the results of the bypolls were a mixed bag for both the Indian National Congress (INC) and the BJP, the national political landscape continues to be in favour of the BJP, as it is still the ruling party in the majority of states. Some BJP leaders, however, have said that the party’s losses in some states have been due to ticket distribution at the local level and infighting in the state party units. Experts also suggest that the by-elections should be a warning to the BJP for the states going to polls next year to resolve party infighting. Let us take a deep dive into the bypolls for the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and find out what happened.
What happened in the three Lok Sabha seats?
Three Lok Sabha seats, including Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha Constituency, Khandwa Lok Sabha Constituency in Madhya Pradesh, and Mandi Lok Sabha Constituency in Himachal Pradesh went to polls. Bypolls were conducted in all three constituencies due to the death of the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP). Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha Constituency is a Scheduled Tribe Reserved Parliamentary Seat in the Union Territory (UT) of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The Shiv Sena had fielded the late MP’s wife Kalaben Delkar for the bypoll while the BJP had fielded Mahesh Gavit, a tribal leader, for the bypolls. The seat was won by the late MP’s wife Kalaben Delkar, who received 1,18,035 votes, defeating her rival BJP candidate Mahesh Gavit by a margin of 51,269 votes. This was the first major win for the Shiv Sena outside of Maharashtra.
The BJP managed to retain the Khandwa Lok Sabha Constituency. In Khandwa, BJP Candidate Gyaneshwar Patil won by a margin of 82,140 votes against the Congress candidate Rajnarayan Singh Purni. Experts also point out that the state which has the highest fuel prices across the country had no impact on electoral results even though the INC raised the issue while campaigning. In Mandi, Congress candidate Pratibha Singh, wife of the six-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh won by 7,490 votes, defeating Khushal Thakur of the BJP. The constituency was earlier held by BJP MP Ram Swaroop Sharma. A sympathy wave following the death of Virbhadra Singh this July is being seen as one of the key factors behind the Congress’ win in Mandi. The Mandi seat is significant as it is the home turf of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur. Factors like poor governance and anti-incumbency with barely one year left for the 2022 polls seemed to have swayed the votes in favour of Congress.
A look at Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, and Haryana
In Andhra Pradesh, elections were held in Badvel Vidhan Sabha Constituency due to the death of the previous MLA. It is a Scheduled Caste reserved constituency and is a part of the Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency which has been held by the YS Rajasekhara Reddy family for more than thirty years. The seat was won by Dasari Sudha, wife of the former MLA, on a YSRCP ticket. She won the seat with a huge margin of 90,411 votes over Panathala Suresh of the BJP.
In Assam, elections were held for five Assembly seats, including Gossaigaon, Bhabanipur, Tamulpur, Mariani, and Thowra Vidhan Sabha Constituencies. With the victories of Phanidhar Talukdar (from Bhabanipur), Sushanta Borgohain (from Thowra), and Rupjyoti Kurmi (from Mariani), the BJP’s tally in the 126-member assembly has gone up to 62 for the first time in Assam’s political history. The party is now just two short of touching the simple majority mark on its own. Jiron Basumatary and Jolen Daimary of the ruling United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), which is an ally of the BJP, won the Gossaigaon and Tamulpur seats. After the bypoll results, the strength of the main opposition, the Congress, in the Assam assembly has been reduced to 27.
In Bihar, elections were held for Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur Assembly seats after the death of the previous MLAs. The Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] retained both the seats defeating its primary rival RJD. As per experts, the bypolls were a test for the RJD to look beyond its traditional Muslim Yadav (M-Y) support base. Due to the same, Tejashwi Yadav decided to field a Baniya candidate in Tarapur, despite knowing that the community had traditionally supported the BJP, was to gain new voters. Similarly, in Kusheshwar Asthan, the party had tried to woo Musahars, a Scheduled Caste community. The Congress had a negligible impact in both seats, coming in fourth with a vote share less than 5%.
In Haryana, elections were held for the Ellenabad Vidhan Sabha Constituency which fell vacant after the incumbent Indian National Lok Dal MLA Abhay SIngh Chautala resigned to protest against farm laws. INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala won the Ellenabad bypoll after defeating his nearest rival, Gobind Kanda of the BJP, by a margin of 6,739 votes.
Karnataka, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and Mizoram: Breakdown
In Karnataka, elections were held for the Sindgi and Hangal Vidhan Sabha Constituencies after the death of the previous MLAs. Bhusanur Ramesh Balappa, fielded by the BJP, won the Sindgi constituency by a margin of 31,185 votes over Congress’s Ashok Mallappa Managuli. Congress’s Srinivas Mane won the Hangal constituency by a margin of 7,373 votes over the BJP’s Shivaraj Sharanappa Sajjanar. Hangal is in Haveri district, which is the home district of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, Congress’ Jitesh Antapurkar won the Deglur Assembly bypoll by a margin of more than 41,000 votes over his nearest rival and BJP candidate Subhash Sabane. The Congress fielded the former MLA’s son, Jitesh, as its candidate from the constituency, while the BJP banked on Sabane, a former Shiv Sena MLA from the area, who had joined the party.
In Meghalaya, elections were held for Rajabala, Mawryngkneng, and Mawphlang Vidhan Sabha Constituencies. The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) wrestled three seats from the opposition Congress. The Mawphlang seat was won by UDP’s Eugeneson Lyngdoh with a margin of 4,401 votes. Overall, the main opposition, Congress, lost two seats while the ruling MDA alliance increased its strength by three. In Mizoram, Mizo National Front (MNF) won the bypoll to the Tuirial assembly seat in Mizoram by securing 39.96% of the total 14,593 votes polled, as per the Election Commission (EC). In the 40-member assembly, the ruling MNF now has 28 MLAs, Congress has five, ZPM and BJP have one MLA each. There are five Independent MLAs, who are allied with the ZPM.
Final Set: Nagaland, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal
The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in Nagaland retained the Shamator-Chessore assembly constituency in the bypoll with its candidate S Keoshu Yimchunger declared elected uncontested on 13 October by the state chief electoral officer’s (CEO) establishment. With Yimchunger’s victory, the NDPP’s total strength in the house of 60 now stands at 21, while NPF has 25 MLAs and BJP has 12, and two independent legislators. In Rajasthan, elections for both Vallabhnagar and Dhariawad Vidhan Sabha Constituencies were won by the INC. The main opposition BJP not only lost the elections, but also its candidates stood third and fourth in the Dhariawad and Vallabhnagar segments, respectively.
In Telangana, elections were held for the Huzurabad Vidhan Sabha Constituency after the resignation of the incumbent MLA Etela Rajender who then joined the BJP. The BJP candidate Etela Rajender defeated Gellu Srinivas Yadav of the TRS. Rajender won his consecutive seventh term as MLA. He has won six times as a TRS candidate from 2004 to 2018 and now as a BJP candidate. The Congress lost its ground despite having a cadre base in the region. During the December 2018 polls, Congress had secured over 60,000 votes in Huzurabad.
In West Bengal, elections were held for the Dinhata, Santipur, Khardaha and Gosaba Vidhan Sabha Constituencies all of which were won by the ruling All India Trinamool Congress (AITC). Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, who vacated the Bhabanipur seat for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, won the Khardaha constituency with a margin of over 93,000 votes, increasing Trinamool’s winning margin more than thrice from 28,140 to 93,832 votes in the bypoll. In Santipur Braja Kishor Goswami, who enjoys the legacy of spiritual guru Bijoy Krishna Goswami, became the second Trinamool candidate to win from Santipur. The TMC had lost the seat in May by 15,000 votes. The BJP suffered an erosion of support among the refugees and due to a shift in CPM’s voter base which had earlier voted for the BJP. Overall, the TMC has improved its tally to 215 in the 294-member West Bengal Assembly while the BJP has dropped from 77 to 75.
Shreya Maskara /New Delhi
Contributing reports by Damini Mehta, Junior Research Associate at Polstrat and Devak Singh, Intern at Polstrat.
From Polstrat, a non-partisan political consultancy which aims to shift the narrative of political discourse in the country from a problem-centric to a solutions-oriented approach.