The results of the by-elections to seven seats in six states declared today carry a significance that goes much beyond the ambit of the local dynamics since they are being viewed in terms of what messages they have for the ruling BJP and the INDIA alliance, and both sides have reasons to cheer and ponder about.
Numerically, there isn't much change for the ruling BJP since it entered the by-elections with three seats and has won three today. However, if the BJP has established itself and sidelined the Left further in Tripura, by retaining a seat and wresting another from the CPI (M), and retained a seat in Uttarakhand, it has lost a seat in West Bengal to the Trinamool Congress, a key component of the INDIA alliance.
The BJP won the Boxnagar seat in Tripura, which was earlier held by the CPI (M). Tafajjal Hossain of the BJP won the seat, which has around 66 per cent minority votes, by a big margin of 30,237 votes. While Hossain polled 34,146 votes, the CPI (M) candidate Mizan Hossain managed to get 3,909 votes. The BJP retained the Dhanpur seat in Tripura, with its candidate Bindu Debnath defeating CPI (M)'s Kaushik Chanda by 18,871 votes. Dhanpur was earlier represented by CPI (M)'s Manik Sarkar for five terms.
The Tripura results, if they come as a source of cheer for the BJP, are a major cause for concern for the CPI (M), which appears to have been further sidelined in the Northeastern state, a place which was still not very long ago its bastion.
In West Bengal, however, the Trinamool has wrested from the BJP Dhupguri seat, with the party's candidate Nirmal Chandra Roy defeating BJP's Tapasi Roy by more than 4,000 votes. The TMC was quick to declare that it had vanquished the BJP in its stronghold. The victory is bound to be viewed keenly in terms of the INDIA alliance discussions, especially seat-sharing talks. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described it as a critical election. She said soon INDIA too will show its preference. “Jai Bangla! Jai INDIA!” is how she wrapped up her victory message on X.
In Dhupguri, the other INDIA constituent but TMC's staunch rival in state politics, the CPI (M), ended up in third place. The CPI (M) had the backing of the Congress in this election. It is still a matter of speculation whether the Congress will ally with the Trinamool or the Left in West Bengal for the Lok Sabha polls.
The Samajwadi Party held on to Ghosi in Uttar Pradesh, with its candidate Sudhakar Singh winning by a margin of over 60,000 votes against BJP's Dara Singh Chauhan, who was the sitting MLA belonging to the SP, but who switched sides to the BJP, necessitating the by-poll. While the SP has retained its seat, for the BJP, the poll outcome comes as a huge setback since the saffron party had made it a prestige battle for itself. Many senior leaders, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had campaigned in Ghosi, and it was being said that if Chauhan, an OBC leader, won, he could find a place in the state cabinet.
The BJP also failed to unseat the JMM in Dumri, where JMM's Bebi Devi won against the NDA candidate Yashoda Devi by 17,000 votes.
In Kerala's Puthupally, the legacy of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy triumphed, with his son and Congress candidate Chandy Oommen registering a massive victory in the constituency. Chandy had passed away recently, necessitating the by-election.
Chandy Oommen aptly said: “Appa (father) won for the 13th time.” He defeated the LDF's Jaick C. Thomas, a youth leader belonging to the CPI(M). The Congress would like to describe the Puthupally result as a mandate against the Pinarayi Vijayan government. It is being seen by the Congress as an indicator of the public sentiment swaying away from the Left Front government and a precursor to the outcome of a UDF-LDF fight in the Lok Sabha polls.
Despite being INDIA alliance partners, the Congress and the Left are unlikely to get into an alliance in Kerala. Since the state has little presence of the BJP, it is felt that there is no need for an alliance between the two, and whoever wins will mark a victory for the anti-BJP bloc.