Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

Bihar By-polls: BJP Wins a Seat, but its Decline is Evident

Nalin Verma |
The BJP has lost its old clout. It will worry about the outcome of elections in the future.
Bihar By-polls: BJP Wins a Seat, but its Decline is Evident

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: NDTV

Patna: Thanks to Asasuddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and deputy chief minister Tejaswhi Yadav’s ‘mami (maternal aunt)’ playing spoilsports for the Mahagathbandhan, the Bharatiya Janata Party has managed to retain the Gopalganjganj seat in the just-concluded by-polls in two seats in Bihar. Just about. The Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Neelam Devi—wife of the ‘don’ Anant Singh, whose conviction in a criminal case led to his disqualification causing by-polls in Mokama—retained the seat with a margin of over 16,741 votes. Neelam’s victory was a foregone conclusion in Mokama, given her husband’s clout and charisma.

But the BJP has suffered heavily in what was its stronghold with Kusum Devi—wife of Subhas Singh whose death caused the by-polls in Gopalganj—retaining it with just a 1,794-vote margin. Kusum polled 70,053 votes against the RJD’s Mohan Prasad Gupta’s 68,259 votes.

Asaduddin Owaisi’s party proved to be the real ‘saviour’ for the BJP, as its candidate Abdul Salam secured 12,214 votes. It appears Salam considerably dented Muslim votes, which, presumably, would have gone to the RJD nominee.

The disgruntled wife and son of the former Siwan MP and ‘don’ late Md Shahabuddin, Heena Sahab and Mohammad Saddam—though officially in the RJD—are rumoured to have worked behind the scenes for Salam. Ultimately, the BJP scraped through. Tejaswhi’s maternal uncle Sadhu Yadav’s wife, Indira Devi, secured 8,854 votes, mainly of the Yadav voters.

The BJP has suffered enormously in its stronghold for the last 17 years. Its decline is evident since it has won Gopalganj by 1,700 votes, although the Mahagathbandhan lost over 21,000 votes to the AIMIM and rebel contestant Indira.

Subhas Singh won the Gopalganj seat by a massive margin of over 32,000 votes in the 2020 Assembly election. A BJP candidate won it for the first time in the November 2005 Assembly election and retained it through successive elections till he breathed his last recently. Subhas won this seat even in 2015 when his party was reduced to 53 seats against the RJD-JDU-Congress Mahagathbandhan got an absolute majority.

The results of the by-polls have sent danger signals to the BJP. North Bihar’s Gopalganj shares borders with eastern Uttar Pradesh—the hub of Hindutva power. The massive slide in the saffron party’s vote share in its stronghold has demonstrated that difficult times lie ahead in the 2024 Lok Sabha and 2025 Assembly elections.

It indicates that the Mahagathbandhan has a broader base now, which is unsurprising considering in 2015, it comprised the RJD, JDU and the Congress party, but now it is a seven-party combination, with the three Left parties—CPI-ML-Liberation, CPI and CPM, and Jitan Ram Manjhi’s Hindustani Awam Morcha or HAM(S).

The Mahagathbandhan’s improved showing despite losing one seat indicates Tejaswhi’s rise as a leader who raises real issues such as employment, health, education, irrigation, etc.

Since the 2020 Assembly poll, he has harped on these issues and seems to have built a compelling narrative against the BJP’s overreliance on pitting the majority against the minorities to polarise voters on religious lines.

These results will encourage Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to speed up his campaign to unite the non-BJP opposition parties across the country. If he is accepted as the leader of a seven-member coalition—all opposed to the BJP—in Bihar, he can offer a model for unity to other states.

He has already met the leaders of most non-BJP parties, including Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and others. Sources in the Mahagathbandhan said Nitish would soon resume the process to step up opposition unity in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

Soon after Nitish deserted the BJP and joined the Mahagathbandhan in August, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax became active against the saffron party’s opponents. The CBI petitioned the court to cancel Tejaswhi’s bail in the alleged IRCTC scam, and the ED and IT authorities raided several persons believed to be Mahagathbandhan supporters.

The investigating agencies’ actions would appear to tarnish the image of Tejaswhi and other Mahagathbandhan leaders, but voters seem not to have cared. Instead, at least in this part of Bihar, they seem unimpressed with the BJP’s tactics against its opponents.

The author is a senior journalist, media educator and independent researcher. The views are personal.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram