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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 24 New Delhi June 2, 2018

Bypoll Mandate for Opposition Unity

Saturday 2 June 2018, by SC



It can be safely concluded that the result of the bypolls for several State Assemblies and Parliament (held on May 28) that have come out or are yet to be finally declared today have been a real thumbs-up for Opposition unity mainly for which reason the BJP, ruling at the Centre and in most States, has had to suffer severe reverses at the hustings this time.

The byelections took place on May 28 for four Lok Sabha seats (one in UP—Kairana, two in Maharashtra—Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya, one in Nagaland) and 10 Assembly seats (one in UP—Noorpur, one in Punjab—Shahkot, one in Bihar—Jokihat, one in Kerala—Chengannur, one in Karna-taka—Rajarajeshwari Nagar, one in Uttarakhand—Tharali, one in West Bengal—Maheshtala, one in Meghalaya—Ampati, two in Jharkhand—Gomia and Silli), the Congress candidate in Maharashtra’s Palus Kadegaon having been elected unopposed.

The RLD has won the Kairana Lok Sabha seat, the winner being a Muslim lady, Tabassum Hasan (the BJP had refused ticket to any Muslim in UP); this is being interpreted as ganna, that is, sugarcane (for which the peasants are being denied their legitimate dues), having defeated Jinnah (the issue of Jinnah’s portrait at the Aligarh Muslim University was played up by the BJP to foment trouble and polarise the people in the State for electoral benefit) in the bypoll. The NCP has defeated the BJP in the Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency. The BJP, meanwhile, is reported to be winning the Palghar Lok Sabha seat as a consolation prize, being on the verge of defeating the Shiv Sena which had earlier held the constituency. There was, incidentally, no unity among the Opposition parties in this constituency which helped the BJP electorally. In Nagaland the sole Lok Sabha seat went to the NDPP which is part of the ruling NDA at the Centre. As for the 10 Assembly seats, the Opposition’s SP candidate won the Noorpur seat in UP and the RJD defeated the ruling JD(U) in Jokihat in Bihar, the Congress emerged victorious in the Rajarajeshwari Nagar seat in Karnataka defeating both the BJP and its present ally in the State Government, the JD(S). The Congress also won the Shahkot Assembly seat in Punjab and Ampati in Meghalaya whereas the JMM took the two seats in Jharkhand. Maheshtala in West Bengal was bagged by the ruling TMC and Chengannur in Kerala by the ruling CPI-M.

The Shiv Sena in Maharashtra is not in the least satisfied by the way counting proceeded in Palghar in Maharashtra; it has accused the ruling the BJP of manipulating the EVMs, a charge that has been predictably refuted by the BJP. The Sena has also spoken of discrepancies during the counting and requested the Election Commission (which too earned its ire) not to announce the result of the Palghar electoral contest. It is for the EC to take the final decision on this score as we go to press.

Howsoever one may look at the results, these have clearly given a jolt to the BJP, perhaps for the first time in its four-year rule at the Centre. Precisely because of Opposition unity the BJP has suffered defeats in four bypolls at a stretch—at Phulpur, Gorakhpur, Kairana and Noorpur—in UP. This unmistakably displays the strength of Opposition unity—how it can qualitatively change the political scenario in today’s India. It is time the BJP heeds the lesson from the mandate of the bypolls. In this context what is significant is the observation of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh: “To take solid strides forward sometimes one has to take a step backward.” Only the coming days will bring out the full implication of Rajnath’s observation.

May 31 S.C.

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