File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
In a big setback to the ruling BJP, opposition parties on Thursday won two out of four Lok Sabha seats strengthening non-BJP unity in the run-up to the 2019 general elections. BJP retained one seat and its ally Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) won the Nagaland Lok Sabha bypoll.
With prestige at stake in every single bypoll, the BJP was seen losing the high-profile Kairana Lok Sabha seat in politically important Uttar Pradesh to a united Opposition after a communally-charged election campaign, while similar appeared the result for Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra, as per the trends and results announced by the Election Commission.
United opposition candidate Rashtriya Lok Dal's Tabassum Hasan, who was supported by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, won the Kairana seat by a margin of 44,618 votes
However, the BJP retained another Lok Sabha seat from Maharashtra, Palghar, where it had faced a challenge from its own ally Shiv Sena but the Opposition could not pose a united fight. BJP's Rajendra Gavit won the seat, defeating Shiv Sena's Shrinivas Wanaga by 29574 votes.
The fourth Lok Sabha seat, Nagaland, for which bypoll was held earlier this week appeared to be going in favour of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a BJP allly in the northeastern state.
The results appeared more slanted against the BJP after taking into account the parties that had won these seats before bypolls were necessitated. While the BJP alliance was seen retaining two Lok Sabha seats -- one in Maharashtra and another in Nagaland -- it failed to retain two others -- UP's Kairana and Maharashtra's Palghar.
Commenting on the results, senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said one has to take two steps backward before a big leap.
Asked about the BJP's performance in these by-elections ahead of next year's general polls, Singh said, "For a massive leap, one always has to go two steps backward."
"We are going to take a massive leap," he added.
AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal latched onto the bypoll results to attack the BJP and said it reflects the anger against the Modi government.
The trends from UP showed the biggest electoral upset for the BJP with the joint opposition candidate, RLD's Tabassum Hasan, leading by a big margin in Kairana Lok Sabha constituency.
The seat fell vacant following the death of the BJP candidate Mriganka Singh's father, Hukum Singh.
Rashtriya Lok Dal's Tabassum Hasan, supported by the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, established an early lead over Mriganka Singh right from the beginning to establish an almost invincible lead by noon.
In Maharashtra, the BJP retained Palghar but was staring at defeat in the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency, which the BJP had won in the 2014 elections. The NCP's Madhukar Kukade was leading over the BJP's Hemant Patel, as per latest trends.
The announcement of results was not without controversies. While repolling was held in few polling booths due to EVMs failures, on the counting, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that said that there were some discrepancies in counting and appealed to the Election Commission to announce the results after those discrepancies are sorted out. However, Election Commission rejected the request and issued the victory certificate to the BJP candidate, Rajendra Gavit.
(With PTI inputs)