State bypolls: BJP loses 13 of its 24 seats across 3 states

The Bhartiya Janata Party received another drubbing at state assembly by-elections today with the party losing 13 out of the 24 seats held by it in the three states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Out of the 33 assembly seats across 10 states, for which counting of votes was taken up today, the BJP won 12, Samajwadi Party eight and Congress seven while TDP, Trinamool Congress, AIUDF and CPI(M) bagged one each. An independent candidate won the lone seat in Sikkim. Counting in Antagarh in Chhattisgarh, which was held by BJP, will be taken up on 20 September.

The BJP won just two out of 11 seats in UP, one out of four seats in Rajasthan and six out of nine seats in Gujarat. The Congress also made a comeback wresting three seats in Gujarat.

The worst results came from Uttar Pradesh where the Samajwadi Party wrested eight of 11 assembly seats vacated by the BJP, including the Rohaniya assembly constituency, which is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, where he won by a massive margin of over 3 lakh votes.

The latest reverses that come on top of the party's disappointing performance in the assembly by-elections in Bihar, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh in the last two months, is seen by critics and opposition as yet another sign of waning popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

While the loss in Uttar Pradesh, where it had made a near-total sweep of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the general elections, was a humiliating blow for the BJP, the saffron party also ceded ground to the Congress in Rajasthan as well.

In Medak Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana, the ruling TRS retained the seat vacated by party chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. Its candidate K Prabhakar Reddy won by 3,61,277 votes.

In West Bengal, Trinamool and BJP won one seat each.

Perhaps, the only solace for BJP was its entry in West Bengal assembly with its candidate Shamik Bhattacharya winning the Basirhat Dakshin seat in North 24 Parganas district by a margin of 1,742 votes against its nearest Trinamool Congress rival and former Indian soccer captain Dipendu Biswas.

The BJP also wrested Silchar constituency in Assam from the Congress while the All India United Democratic Front and the ruling Congress retained Jamunamukh and Lakhipur seats respectively in the state.

CPI-M won the Manu (ST) assembly constituency in Tripura while independent candidate R N Chamling, brother of chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, won Rangang-Yangang assembly seat in Sikkim by 708 votes defeating his nearest Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) nominee.

In Rajasthan, BJP lost in Nasirabad, Weir and Surajgarh Assembly constituencies. It retained Kota city.

AIDUF president Badruddin Ajmal's son Abdur Rahim Ajmal won the Jamunamukh seat defeating Congress' Bashir Uddin Laskar by 22,959 votes in Assam.

The ruling Congress retained Lakhipur seat as its candidate Rajdeep Goala defeated his nearest BJP rival Sanjay Thakur by 9,172 votes garnering 40,090 votes, while Thakur got 30,918 votes.

In Silchar, however, BJP's Dilip Kumar Paul was ahead of Arun Dutta Majumdar of Congress.

Telugu Desam Party's T Sowmya won the Nandigama Assembly bypoll in Andhra Pradesh by 74,827 votes.

Riding on the sympathy wave, Sowmya, a software engineer, got 99,748 votes. The by-election was necessitated following the death of Sowmya's father IT Prabhakara Rao due to a cardiac arrest.

CPI-M candidate Prabhat Chowdhury trounced his Congress rival Mailafru Mog in Manu (ST) constituency in Tripura. The constituency fell vacant after former commerce and industry minister Jitendra Chowdhury was elected to the Lok Sabha.

Heartened by the big gains at the cost of the BJP, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted about "drawing inspiration for 2017, no matter what the outcome" of by-polls in the state.

"The people of UP have rejected communal forces," said an upbeat Akhilesh Yadav.

Senior BJP leader and union minister Uma Bharti said the "Modi wave" was definitely not dead, but said "state worker and leaders need to introspect." The BJP has also lost Charkhari vacated by Bharti.

The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday declared the BJP's Modi-wave to be over, if the disappointing display of the party in the bypoll results are any indication.

AAP leader Prashant Bhushan blamed the BJP's "communal politics" in Uttar Pradesh for the party's poor showing in that state.

"This result is a slap on the face for the BJP. It shows that communal politics is not going to work. With this result, the BJP has realised that the public has started disliking them," he said.

In fact, the BJP lost five seats in places where its controversial MP Yogi Adityanath campaigned.

Adityanath, however, blamed other factors. "There has to be an analysis of how tickets were distributed. I was not allowed to campaign everywhere. We won wherever I went," he claimed.

While it would be absurd to believe that the results are an endorsement of the Akhilesh government or a sudden spurt of popularity of its local leaders, the absence of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party from the by-poll contests seems to have hit the BJP, as there was no split in the votes against it.