Jolt to BJP in bypolls, RJD & JDU click in Bihar

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The saffron wave which swept the Lok Sabha was rolled back in the by-elections held in four states. Of the 18 seats in four states -- Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab -- while the Congress and its allies won 10, seven went to the BJP and one to its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal. This setback comes after the BJP, which had swept all five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand, lost all three Assembly polls to the Congress last month.

In Bihar, the BJP juggernaut, which had won 31 out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, was halted by the combined forces of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. The maha gathbandhan (grand alliance) of the RJD-JD(U)-Congress won six of the 10 seats (gaining four seats) while the BJP was confined to four, a loss of four seats.

While the RJD-JD(U) claimed that "Modi magic has disappeared and the people of Bihar have rectified their mistake", the BJP claimed that the bypolls in the state "had nothing to do with Modi". The BJP is now focusing on the forthcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. As for the Assembly polls in Delhi, it seems the BJP is not in a tearing hurry and intends to delay them till the party is certain of electoral victory.

In Bihar, if the Lalu-Nitish combine won the first round of the popularity contest, in Karnataka, the ruling Congress received a major boost when it won two of three seats, including wresting Bellary (Rural) from the BJP, which managed to retain one constituency in the fiercely-fought August 21 bypolls.

N Y Gopalakrishna of the Congress trounced saffron candidate Obalesh by a margin of 33,104 votes in the constituency, represented earlier by B Sriramulu, who has become a Lok Sabha member. Sriramulu was known for his proximity to mining baron and former minister Janardhana Reddy.

In Shikaripura, the BJP managed to retain the seat with B Y Raghavendra, the son of party national vice-president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, winning by a reduced margin of 6,430 votes against the Congress’ H S Shantaveerappa Gowda. The signals in this constituency could be ominous as B S Yeddyurappa had won Shikaripura in the 2013 Assembly elections by a margin of over 24,000 votes as a candidate of the Karnataka Janatha Paksha. His outfit later merged with the BJP before the Lok Sabha polls. The Karnataka outcome has come as a shot in the arm for chief minister Siddaramaiah.

In Punjab, fortune smiled on the Congress yet again as Preneet Kaur, former MoS for external affairs and the wife of former chief minister Amarinder Singh, won the Patiala (Urban) constituency. The seat fell vacant after Singh won the Lok Sabha polls.

Alarm bells rang for the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP as their candidate lost the deposit in this seat. The AAP had made an impressive debut in the Lok Sabha polls, winning four out of 13 seats in Punjab.

In Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, the BJP suffered a setback after the Congress wrested the Bahoriband seat from it. The BJP, however, won two others Assembly berths.

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