Patna: Barely five months after its stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha elections, the NDA suffered a setback in Bihar assembly by-polls winning just one of the five assembly seats whose results were announced on Thursday.
The results gave the once mighty RJD a reason to smile as it won two seats, while Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM gained a toehold in the state clinching Kishanganj, a Muslim dominated constituency. BJP rebel candidate Karnjeet Singh won the Dharaunda seat.
The JD(U) could win only Nathnagar where its candidate Laxmi Kant Mandal beat Rabia Khatun of the RJD by little over 5,000 votes.
The NDA, however, scored an easy victory in Samastipur (SC) Lok Sabha constituency where Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan's nephew Prince Raj defeated Ashok Kumar of the Congress by over 1 lakh votes. The seat had fallen vacant following the death of Paswan's younger brother and two-term MP Ram Chandra Paswan.
The NDA had won 39 of the state's 40 Lok Sabha seats earlier this year, decimating the RJD. The only saving grace for the RJD-led grand alliance was Congress candidate Mohammed Javed's victory in Kishanganj.
Of the five seats where by-polls were held, four were held by BJP ally the JD(U) and one by the Congress. The by- polls were necessitated by the election of incumbent lawmakers to the Lok Sabha earlier this year.
The loss will be sorely felt by the JD(U), the BJP's senior partner in the state's ruling coalition, as it could reignite the demand by a section of saffron party leaders for a greater share in the electoral pie when assembly polls are held in Bihar next year.
Some senior BJP leaders had openly pitched for a saffron party leader as the next chief minister given its exponential growth over the last few years before party chief Amit Shah declared a few days ago that the NDA will go to the hustings in Bihar next year under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
The RJD, which had drawn a blank in the Lok Sabha polls, the party's worst-ever performance since its inception 22 years ago, made a comeback of sorts when it wrested Simri Bakhtiarpur and Belhar from the JD(U) by impressive margins.
RJD's Zafar Alam beat Arun Kumar by over 15,000 votes in Simri Baskhtiyarpur, while Ramdev Yadav defeated Laldhari Yadav by over 19,000 votes.
Owaisi's AIMIM was the surprise package in the by- polls that were billed as the semi-final before the state assembly elections next year.
The Hyderabad-headquartered party, whose influence was largely limited to the old city area of the Telangana capital for a long time, will make its debut in the Bihar assembly with its candidate Qamrul Hoda getting elected from Kishanganj. Hoda beat BJP's Sweety Singh by over 10,000 votes.
The AIMIM extended its influence beyond Hyderabad when it won two assembly seats in Maharashtra in 2014 and followed it up by clinching Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat in the same state in 2019, reflecting Owaisi and his party's growing acceptance among Muslims outside his native state.
In Daraundha assembly constituency, the JD(U) fielded Ajay Singh, a local muscleman, who lost to Karnjeet Singh alias Vyas Singh, an Independent candidate, by over 27,000 votes. Ajay Singh's wife Kavita had won the Lok Sabha election on a JD(U) ticket from Siwan.
Karnjeet, who was the Siwan district vice-president of the BJP, jumped into the electoral fray after the alliance decided to field a JD(U) nominee for the seat. He was sacked from the BJP days before voting.
Tejashwi Yadav, the Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar assembly, was a happy man.
Friends, there are by-election results also in Bihar, he wrote on Twitter, ending his post with a smiley.