Patna: Just three months after the BJP-led alliance swept the Lok Sabha polls, the new combine of the RJD, JD-U and Congress stunned the BJP by winning six of the 10 assembly seats in Bihar.
Wild celebrations erupted outside the offices of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in particular, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- on the same road -- was deserted as the by-election results came in.
In a stunning reversal of fortunes, the RJD won three seats, its new found ally JD-U two while the Congress wrested the Bhagalpur seat from the BJP after a gap of 23 long years.
The RJD victories came from Mohiuddinnagar, Rajnagar and Chapra. The JD-U won in Jale and Parbatta.
The BJP, which was confident of crushing the opposition, was declared elected from Hajipur, Mohania, Narkatiaganj and Banka constituencies. Its ally, the Lok Janshakti Party, was routed.
Of the 10 seats, the BJP had won six, the RJD three and the JD-U one in the last assembly elections in 2010.
The Aug 21 by-elections were seen as a litmus test for both the BJP as well as the RJD and JD-U, which came together after two decades soon after the Lok Sabha results came out in May.
The Congress later joined the alliance to take on the BJP-LJP combine.
RJD leader Ashok Kumar Sinha said the victory of the new alliance showed that the "magic of Lalu and Nitish has clicked", referring to former chief ministers Lalu Prasad (RJD) and Nitish Kumar (JD-U).
Nitish Kumar resigned as chief minister in May after the Lok Sabha disaster. A new JD-U government, led by Jitan Ram Manjhi, took power with the backing of its former foe, the RJD.
"The Modi factor has failed," Sinha gloated, referring to BJP mascot and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
JD-U leader Sanjay Singh said the results proved that Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar were right in joining hands again.
"It was the first major political test after the general election and ahead of next year's assembly polls in Bihar," he said. "The alliance of RJD-JD-U-Congress has gained."
BJP leaders in the state were shattered but put up a brave front.
BJP's Syed Shahnawaz Hussain took moral responsibility for the poor showing. Party spokesman Vinod Narain Jha, however, claimed the results would have no impact on the assembly polls next year.
In Bhagalpur, Ajit Sharma of the Congress won by 8,000 votes over Nabhay Choudhary of BJP.
The by-election was caused by the resignation of former minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Buxar on a BJP ticket.
"It is a big win for Congress," state Congress president Ashok Choudhary said. The BJP had been winning the seat since 1990.
Bhagalpur, an urban centre, was considered a stronghold of the BJP.