BJP might be known for winning the assembly polls held in several states but the party has fared poorly in the by-elections. The party has managed to win only one assembly seat and one Lok Sabha by-poll seat for by-elections held in four Lok Sabha and 10 assembly constituencies on Monday. BJP managed to retain Palghar by-poll by 29,572 votes but lost Bhandara-Gondiya Lok Sabha constituency to NCP. After the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-poll defeat, BJP received another setback in UP as it lost the Kairana Lok Sabha seat to Rashtriya Lok Dal and Noorpur Assembly seat to Samajwadi Party. It managed to win the Tharali Assembly seat by 1,900 votes.
Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde said, “People are fed up with BJP. Several parties have come together to fight the election against BJP and now people are aware of the substandard work done by the government in last four years. The performance of anti-BJP front in this by-poll will have an impact on upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha polls. I can’t comment on Congress’ strategy right now. BJP’s mandate is declining day by day.”
The results of by-polls will have a bearing on the party’s performance as it prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. What is the reason behind BJP’s dismal performance in by-polls? In an attempt to win Lok Sabha and assembly polls, is the party not focussing too much on by-polls? Often it has been observed that BJP has been organising high profile election campaigns for its preparation for polls in bigger states like Gujarat and Karnataka. Has the party become overconfident after winning the Lok Sabha and the assembly polls that it has started taking voters for granted?
Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab said, “The Modi government has failed to fulfil the promises made by it to people. People are fed up with the policies of the government. If regional parties form a grand alliance against BJP then definitely it will have an impact on the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. BJP government has become overconfident and it will not help them. Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision pertaining to having a grand alliance against BJP.”
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself spearheads the campaigning process as he holds massive rallies in bigger states. On the other hand, a by-election is fought on local issues like agriculture, power, employment and farm loan waiver. Voters too vote for local parties which remain connected with them at grassroot level. Another reason for BJP’s below par performance in by-polls is due to too much dependency on Modi to lure voters. BJP doesn’t have a leader of Modi’s calibre who can attract voters while campaigning for by-election. Even BJP president Amit Shah is focussed on preparing strategies for the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan Assembly elections whereas there is a lack of proper roadmap to win the by-polls.
NCP women’s wing President Chitra Wagh said, “This government has completely failed to fulfill the aspirations of the people. They have failed to meet the expectations of the people and it is reflecting in the by-poll results. There were reports about malfunctioning of electronic voting machines. People’s mandate is against the government. Development is not happening, inflation is increasing and women are not safe under BJP’s reign. People are fed up with the government and NCP will come on streets to protest for their rights.”
In 2015, BJP had lost the Ratlam constituency in Madhya Pradesh which it had won in 2014. In 2017, the saffron party lost the Amritsar and Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by-polls to Congress. BJP’s poor run in by-polls continued in 2018 too as it lost the Ajmer, Alwar Lok Sabha by-polls and Mandalgarh Assembly by-election to Congress. The BJP suffered a massive setback when it lost the Gorakhpur by-poll a constituency which was earlier held by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath while Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had held the Phulpur seat. It also failed to defeat the TMC in West Bengal’s Uluberia.
BJP MLA Sardar Tara Singh stated, “Since many parties have joined hands against the BJP, hence, they have fared badly in by-polls. But people will understand the importance of Modiji’s development agenda and will vote for BJP in Lok Sabha polls. People are aware of the good governance provided by the Modi government since last four years. Half of the opposition parties will join hands with BJP in 2019. BJP is working for the people and they have faith in us.”
The by-poll verdict serves as a wake-up call for BJP as it will have to pull up its socks to revive itself ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Ever since the Modi government had come to power in 2014, it has failed to fulfil the promises made by them. Voters are already frustrated with the BJP government as it has failed to live up to their expectations. BJP will have to do some self-introspection to regain voters’ confidence before next year’s general election.