BJP-led alliance has suffered a severe blow in the by polls held lately, in the by-elections to four Lok Sabha by-elections and 11 assembly constituencies including Chengannur. In many places BJP lost sitting seats.
The opposition alliance wrested five constituencies including two Lok Sabha seats. Of 15constituencies, anti-BJP alliance gained 12 seats. In Kairana, Uttar Pradesh, Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate defeated BJP and in Bhandara-Gondiya of Maharashtra, NCP seized the seat from BJP. Kairana is the third Lok Sabha constituency that BJP is losing in a row in the state. The party had earlier lost elections held in Gorakhpur and Fulpur.
BJP fielded Mriganka Singh, daughter of Hukkum Singh, whose death caused the by poll in Kairana. However, Tabassum Hassan of RLD defeated her with a big margin. The by poll results are more than enough to convince the Opposition parties that BJP's consecutive successes are a result of division of votes and that unity of the opposition can defeat the saffron party. Unity among Bahujan Samajvadi Party, Samajvadi Party, RLD, Congress and others, and the e common man's anger against BJP misrule, paved the way for new possibilities. If the Opposition parties can see this as a pointer towards the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, numbers indicate that NDA will lose power.
Another good augury is that people have started to realise that mere slogans and religious, castiest sentiments are not enough for good governance. Kairana is a good instance. The constituency had witnessed heavy polarisation after an orchestrated campaign of 'Hindu migration'. However, the voters saw into such propaganda. People of Uttar Pradesh have started to brush off the divisive politics of Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of the state. As a custom, prime ministers do not attend by poll campaign. Ignoring that, Narendra Modi camped in Uttar Pradesh. Even after the campaign hours, he conducted an ‘unofficial election campaign’ in neighbouring Baghpat. However, it was pushing aside all such campaigns that the voters defeated BJP. All these are signs of a new form of political awareness. We witness this in UP, a crucial state. Emergence of a new generation, who are capable to wrest their rights from the governments and cannot be tranquilized with the help of communal discourse might prepare the country for a healthy political contest.
It is not merely the setback suffered by the BJP camp, but also the states which gave the blow that are significant in national politics. Underlying the elections are the sign that the 'Modi wave' and invincibility of BJP are becoming things of the past. Even in the Palghar constituency in Maharashtra, which is said to have saved the face of BJP, the party has suffered a reversal. In spite of the ceaseless campaigning by chief minister Fadnavis, the party's majority nosedived from 2, 30,000 to 20,000. Observers note that since the 2014 BJP victory, subsequent elections have shown signs of the wind blowing in the opposite direction. Going by the trend seen in the 17 assembly elections since then, BJP’s mass support in Lok Sabha constituencies has suffered to a great extent. The party which had won 282 seats in 2014, now enjoys the strength of only 233 seats as per the assembly seat results. Elections are going to take place for assemblies of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. This hurdle either will not be easy for the party, prior to the Lok Sabha elections.
Even in 2014, it was clear that the majority of the people did not support the BJP side. What gave them victory was the disunity in the opposite camp. The push of regional political parties and the disenchantment with BJP rule, together with hopes of unity among the Opposition are factors that scare BJP. The fact that they are attempting to frighten the Opposition leaders using the CBI, and are initiating enquiry and cases, is evidence of this fear. In the circumstances with little value attached to decency and ethics, further dirty games can still be expected. In any case, the most recent elections have shown what the popular will is. All that is needed is for the Opposition to be prepared to actualize that in a meaningful manner. The by-polls have proven that even small steps in that direction will make big impact. It can also be made out from the public that minorities and backward communities who were written off from elections, are starting again to make their presence known.