The 2021 bypoll results: what's the message between the lines?

The 2021 bypoll results: what’s the message between the lines?

Politics
Reading Time: 13 minutes

The 2021 bypoll results for three Lok Sabha seats and 30 assembly seats in 14 states— Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal—showed a mixed set of political reactions.

The results have shown that there is a visible anti-establishment undercurrent affecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) electoral prospects, though the Hindutva fascism-incensed Party remains omnipotent in the national political scenario.

While the BJP suffered a humiliating defeat in some of the states, it still managed to fare well elsewhere, exhibiting how communal polarisation pays rich electoral dividends and can eclipse the burning issues.

2021 bypoll results at a glance

Andhra Pradesh bypoll results

Only one assembly seat in Andhra Pradesh, the Badvel constituency reserved for the ostracised Dalit community (scheduled caste), went to the polls. The state’s ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSR Congress) won the seat with a huge margin.

YSR Congress’s Dasari Sudha won by a margin of 90,533 votes against the BJP candidate Panathala Suresh. The Congress party’s candidate managed only 6,235 votes, 4.24% of the total votes. The YSR Congress Party got 76.25% of the total votes, while the BJP could manage only 14.73% of the votes.

Assam bypoll results

The ruling BJP secured a comfortable victory, with the help of its ally United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL), in all five assembly seats in Assam. In two constituencies, the independent candidates won more votes than the BJP’s perceived rival Congress party.

With 64,200 votes, ie, 56.41% of the total votes, BJP’s Phanidhar Talukdar won the Bhabanipur constituency by defeating the Congress party’s Sailendra Nath Das who got 38,559 votes, 33.88% of the total votes. The Congress party’s former ally, the All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) candidate Jubbar Ali stood third with 6,430 votes, 5.65% of the total votes.

Jiron Basumatary of the UPPL won the Gossaigaon constituency after getting 58,769 votes, 39.64% of the total votes, against the nearest rival of the Congress party’s Jowel Tudu, who got 30,517 votes, ie, 20.58% of the total vote share. The AIUDF candidate Khairul Anam Khandakar stood third with 19,255 votes, ie, 12.99% of total votes.

Rupjyoti Kurmi of the BJP won the Mariani constituency getting 55,489 votes, ie, 62.38% of the total votes. The Congress party’s Luhit Konwar could get only 15,385 votes, 17.3% of the total votes, slightly higher than the independent candidate Sanjib Gogoi, who secured 15,192 votes, 17.08% of the total votes.

Independent candidate Ganesh Kachary trailed with 29,619 votes, 20.37% votes vis-à-vis the winner Jolen Daimary of the UPPL in the Tamulpur constituency. Daimari got 86,678 votes, 59.62% of the total votes. Bhaskar Dahal of the Congress party got merely 7,763 votes, only 5.34% of the total votes. Gana Suraksha Party’s Brajendra Nath Deka got 13,573 votes, ie, 9.34% vote share, and breathed on the shoulders of the BJP’s rivals.

A similar situation prevailed in the Thowra constituency, where independent candidate Dhaijya Konwar became the runner-up with 24,395 votes, ie, 27.52% vote share, vis-à-vis the winner, BJP’s Sushanta Borgohain of the BJP, who won 54,956 votes –61.99% vote share. The Congress party came a distant third with 5,892 votes, 6.65% of the total votes.

Bihar bypoll results

Bypolls took place in two assembly constituencies—Kusheshwar Asthan and Tarapur—in Bihar. Both seats were won by the ruling Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)], an appendage of the BJP.

In Kusheshwar Asthan, JD(U) candidate Aman Bhushan Hajari, who polled 59,887 votes, 45.72% of the total votes, defeated his nearest rival Ganesh Bharti of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) who polled 47,192 votes, 36.02% of the total votes. Hajari is the son of the late Maheshwar Hajari, whose death resulted in the bypoll.

Anju Devi of the Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas) [LJP(Ram Vilas)], a splinter of the party led by late Ram Vilas Paswan, polled 5,623 votes, 4.29%, and stood third, while the Congress party’s Aitrek Kumar ended up at the fourth place with 5,603 votes, 4.28% of the total votes.

There was a tough fight in the Tarapur constituency, where RJD’s Arun Kumar, who polled 75,238 votes, 44.35% of the total vote share, was defeated by the JD(U) candidate Rajeev Kumar Singh, who managed to get 79,090 votes, 46.62% of the total votes.

The Congress party, which didn’t tie-up with the RJD, its Grand Alliance ally, during these bypolls, trailed behind LJP (Ram Vilas) in Tarapur as well and ended at the fourth place. LJP (Ram Vilas) candidate Kumar Chandan got 5,364 votes, 3.16% vis-à-vis Congress party’s Rajesh Kumar Mishra’s 3,590 votes, 2.12% votes only.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha bypoll results

The Shiv Sena’s Delkar Kalaben Mohanbhai defeated her nearest rival, the BJP’s Gavit Maheshbhai, with a margin of 51,269 votes. Kalaben got 118,035 votes, 59.53% of the total votes, vis-à-vis the Maheshbhai’s 66,766 votes, 33.68% of the total votes.

The Congress party’s Dhodi Maheshbhai Balubhai could get only 6,150 votes, 3.1% of the total votes.

Haryana bypoll results

Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala won the Ellenabad bypoll after getting 65,992 votes—43.49% of the total votes—vis-à-vis his nearest contender, Gobind Kanda of the BJP, who got 59,253 votes, 39.05% of the total votes.

The BJP has narrowed the margin vis-à-vis the 2019 elections when Chautala won the seat. He resigned protesting the three anti-farmer farm laws passed by the Modi regime.

The Ellenabad constituency became a “prestige” issue for the BJP as it wanted to show that it still has public support in Haryana, even though the ongoing farmers’ protest has been turning the people against it.

Out of a total of 19 candidates in the Ellenabad constituency, the Congress party’s Pawan Beniwal managed to get 20,904 votes, 13.78% of total votes.

Himachal Pradesh bypoll results

In the BJP-ruled hill state, the Congress party won all the three assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat of Mandi, which was earlier held by the saffron party.

Sanjay of the Congress party defeated the BJP’s Rattan Singh Pal in the Arki Assembly constituency. Sanjay got 30,798 votes —50.86% of the total votes—vis-à-vis 27,579 votes and 45.55% of vote share by Pal.

In the Fatehpur Assembly bypoll, the Congress party’s Bhawani Singh Pathania got 24,449 votes, 42.82% of the total votes, to defeat the nearest rival Baldev Thakur of the BJP, who got 18,660 votes, 32.68% of the total votes.

Rohit Thakur of the Congress party got 29,955 votes, 52.92% of the total votes, in the Jubbal-Kotkhai Assembly bypoll and defeated his nearest independent rival Chetan Singh Bragta, who got 23,662 votes, ie, 41.8% of the total votes. The BJP’s official candidate Neelam Seraik became third in the race, getting only 2,644 votes,  4.67% of the total votes.

The Congress party’s Pratibha Singh won the Mandi Lok Sabha by-election by defeating her nearest rival of the BJP, Brig Kushal Chand Thakur, by a thin margin of 7,490 votes. Singh got 369,565 votes, 49.14% of the total votes, vis-à-vis 362,075 votes of Brig Thakur, 48.14% of the total votes. This one percentage point margin became lethal for the BJP.

Karnataka bypoll results

Mane Srinivas of the Congress party got 87,490 votes, 50.95% of the total votes, to defeat the BJP’s Shivaraj Sharanappa Sajjanar, who got 80,117 votes, 46.65% of the total votes, in the Hangal constituency. The Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] candidate Niyaz Shaikh ended up at the third place with just 927 votes, 0.54% of the total votes.

At Sindgi, the BJP’s Bhusanur Ramesh Balappa won after getting 93,865 votes, 57.31% of the total votes, vis-à-vis the rival candidate, the Congress party’s Ashok Mallappa Managuli, who got 62,680 votes, ie, 38.27% of the total votes. The JD(S) candidate Angadi Naziya got 4,353 votes, ie, 2.66% of the total votes.

Madhya Pradesh bypoll results

One Lok Sabha and three state assembly constituencies went to bypolls in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. The 2021 bypoll results for Madhya Pradesh show a mixed bag response.

While the BJP candidate Gyaneshwar Patil won the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat after securing 632,455 votes, 49.85% of the total votes, Rajnarayan Singh Purni of the Congress party trailed with 550,315 votes, 43.38% of the total votes.

The BJP’s Sulochana Rawat won the Jobat byelection to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly by getting 68,949 votes, 46.92% of the total votes cast, whereas, the Congress party’s candidate Mahesh Rawat “Patel” got 62,845 votes, ie, 42.77% of the total votes.

In the Prithvipur Assembly bypolls, the BJP’s Shishupal Yadav got 82,673 votes, 53.12% of the total votes, the Congress party’s Nitendra Singh Rathore got 66,986 votes, 43.04% of the total votes.

The Congress party only managed to win the Raigaon Assembly constituency in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress party’s Kalpana Verma got 72,989 votes, 50.8% of the total votes, while the BJP’s Pratima Bagari got 60,699 votes, 42.25% of the total votes.

Maharashtra byelections results

In the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition-led Maharashtra, the BJP lost a crucial seat, Deglur, which is reserved for the Dalits.

Antapurkar Jitesh Raosaheb of the Congress party won the seat by securing 108,840 votes, 57.03% of the total votes, against the BJP’s Sabne Subhash Pirajirao, who scored 66,907 votes, 35.06% of the total votes.

Meghalaya Assembly bypolls results

Eugeneson Lyngdoh of the United Democratic Party (UDP), which was earlier a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) but later severed its ties with the alliance over the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA 2019), won the Mawphlang constituency byelections by securing 13,285 votes, 48.35% of the total votes.

The Congress party’s Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem got 8,884 votes, 32.34%, while the NEDA constituent National People’s Party (NPP) managed to bag 5,103 votes, 18.57% of the total votes in Mawphlang constituency.

In the Mawryngkneng Assembly bypolls, NEDA constituent and the BJP’s ally NPP’s Pyniaid Sing Syiem won by getting 14,177 votes, 49.1% of the total votes, against the Congress party’s Highlander Kharmalki, who got 12,361 votes, 42.81% of the total votes.

The NPP also bagged the Rajabala constituency, where its candidate Md Abidus Saleh secured 11,823 votes, 39.77% of the total votes, while the Congress party and the UDP came second and third.

Hashina Yasmin Mondal of the Congress party got 9,897 votes, 33.29% of the total votes, while the UDP’s Ashahel D Shira managed to get 24.38% of vote share with 7,247 votes.

Mizoram bypolls result

In Mizoram’s Tuirial, the NEDA member Mizo National Front’s (MNF) K Laldawngliana won after getting 5,820 votes, 39.89% of the total votes. The Zoram

People’s Movement’s candidate Laltlanmawia got 4,536 votes, 31.09% of the vote share, and the Congress party’s candidate, Chalrosanga Ralte, got the third position with 3,927 votes, 26.92% of the total votes.

Nagaland 2021 bypoll elections result

Nagaland has a unique political equation among all Indian states. It has a zero-opposition government. The ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) endorsed the ruling United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate S Keoshu Yimchunger for the Shamator Chessore constituency, and he won unopposed.

The UDA is the ruling alliance with the BJP as an important stakeholder. With the victory of Keoshu from Shamator Chessore, the NDPP’s tally in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly rose to 21. The Naga People’s Front (NPF) has 25 seats, while the BJP has 12. There are two independent legislators as well, who support the UDA government.

Rajasthan 2021 byelection results

The BJP suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in the Congress party-ruled Rajasthan, where the farmers’ movement against Modi’s three farm laws has been quite intensive. The ruling Congress party emerged victorious in all two constituencies, boosting the morale of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

In Dhariawad Assembly byelections, Nagraj of the Congress party got 69,819 votes, 39.16% of the total votes, to win the seat. An independent candidate, Thawarchand emerged second with 51,094 votes, ie, 28.66% of the total votes. The BJP’s Khet Singh came third with 46,487 votes, 26.08% of the total votes.

Preeti Gajendra Singh Shaktawat, the Congress party’s candidate, won the Vallabhnagar constituency by getting 65,713 votes, ie, 35.9% of the total votes. The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s Udailal Dangi came second with 45,107 votes, 24.65% of the total votes. The BJP managed to drag itself to the third position with 21,433 votes, 11.71% of the total votes.

Telangana Assembly bypolls results

Surprisingly, the BJP won Telangana’s Huzurabad constituency by defeating the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The BJP’s Eatala Rajender got 107,022 votes, 51.96% of the total votes, while the TRS candidate Gellu Srinivas Yadav bagged 83,167 votes, 40.38% of the total votes.

The Congress party could only manage third place with its candidate Balmoor Venkat Narsingh Rao getting only 3,014 votes, 1.46% of the total votes.

West Bengal 2021 bypolls result

Four seats where either the winner had died or resigned went to bypolls on October 30th. Two among them were won in the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections, held earlier in March-April 2021, by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), while two were won by the BJP.

The TMC managed to sweep all four seats, which shocked the crisis-ridden state BJP as one of the seats is Dinhata in northern West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district, from where the Union Minister for Home Affairs, Sports and Youth Affairs Nisith Pramanik was elected in May 2021.

Pramanik, who switched to the BJP from the TMC in 2019, was awarded two state minister’s positions in the Modi cabinet for helping the BJP win eight out of the nine constituencies in Cooch Behar.

After his election, Pramanik resigned from his member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) position as the BJP lost the elections. He retained his member of the Parliament (MP) position, which necessitated the bypoll in Dinhata.

Veteran politician, a former minister in both the left and the TMC administration, Udayan Guha of the TMC got 189,575 votes, 84.15% of total votes, and defeated his nearest rival from the BJP, Ashok Mandal, who got 25,486 votes, 11.31% of total votes in Dinhata Assembly constituency.

Ironically, Guha was defeated by Pramanik from the same constituency in the elections held in March-April 2021, and the margin was only 57 votes. This time, Guha swept the constituency with a margin of 164,089 votes, which itself is a record in West Bengal’s Legislative Assembly elections so far.

In southern West Bengal’s Gosaba Assembly constituency, Subrata Mondal of the TMC got 161,474 votes, 87.19% of the total votes, and defeated the BJP’s Palash Rana, who got 18,423 votes, 9.95% of the total votes.

At Khardaha constituency bypolls, the TMC candidate and former minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay bagged 114,086 votes, 73.59% of the total votes, and defeated the BJP’s Joy Saha, who got 20,254 votes, 13.07% of the total votes.

One of the interesting factors of this constituency is the emergence of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] candidate Debajyoti Das as the second runner-up after occupying the second spot during the first few rounds of counting. Das got 16,110 votes, 10.39% of the total votes.

At Santipur constituency, where the BJP’s Leader of the Opposition Subhendu Adhikari asserted in October that the saffron party’s prospects of winning the seat had increased by three times due to the anti-Hindu violence in neighbouring Bangladesh, the party suffered a severe setback.

Braja Kishor Goswami of the TMC got 112,087 votes, 54.89% of the total votes, to defeat the BJP’s Niranjan Biswas, who got 47,412 votes, 23.22% of the total votes, in the Santipur constituency. The CPI(M) candidate Soumen Mahato became the second runner-up with 39,958 votes, 19.57% of the total vote share.

Santipur, a predominantly refugee Hindu Bengali dominated constituency, with a large Matua and Namasudra—Bengali Dalit community—refugee population, voted for the BJP in the assembly elections. The BJP’s vote share was 49.94% during the assembly elections, while the TMC had 42.72% of the vote share.

What’s inside the 2021 bypoll results?

The 2021 bypoll results gave a mixed bag response. While the BJP and its allies won most of the assembly seats out of the total 30, its losses, especially in two of the three Lok Sabha seats and in the states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal, exhibit the presence of a strong anti-incumbency wave in different parts of India against the Modi regime.

One set of political analysts refuse to delve deeper into the 2021 bypoll results, claiming that too much can’t be read from them as they are mostly impacted by hyper-local conditions, which can’t have a pan-India appeal.

Some political pundits have claimed that there is a trend of voting for the ruling party in the byelections, so the clean sweep by the Congress party in Rajasthan or the TMC in West Bengal can’t be called the total wipe-out of the BJP. However, if this is a correct assessment, then the BJP could have also won a sweeping victory in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, as well.

There are also claims, especially from the Congress party’s quarters, that the BJP lost several seats due to the severe economic crisis that the Modi regime has pushed the country into. They blamed the high fuel prices, rising price of cooking gas, high unemployment, rising inflation and the obstinate farmers’ movement against the Modi regime as the principal reasons behind the BJP’s loss.

However, if such an assessment is taken at its face value, then how could the BJP win in Telangana or one seat each in Karnataka or Madhya Pradesh? How did the BJP manage to sweep, along with its lackeys, the bypolls in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland?

Neither the anti-incumbency wave against the ruling dispensation nor the pro-ruling party sentiments during the bypolls resulted in the current scenario. It’s rather a complex web of events that led to the victory and the defeat of the BJP as well as its opponents in the 2021 bypolls.

The anti-incumbency wave behind the 2021 bypoll results

The anti-incumbency waves against the Modi regime played a crucial role behind the BJP’s defeat in the states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

Growing unemployment, high prices of fuel and cooking gas, spiralling inflation, etc, along with falling real wages, have been driving the working class and the downtrodden masses to a realm of severe existential crisis.

The BJP’s nonchalant attitude towards the burning issues impacting the people’s lives helped the Opposition in those places where it has a strong organisation to take on the saffron camp.

As of November 3rd, the unemployment rate in BJP-ruled Haryana—where the party lost Ellenabad constituency— was 30.7% vis-à-vis the national average of 7.6%, as per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s data. In Himachal Pradesh, the unemployment rate was 14.1% at the same time.

The farmers’ movement against Modi’s three farm laws has stirred a massive outrage among the people of Rajasthan, from where many farmers joined the movement against the law. It’s no wonder that the BJP fell to third place in Rajasthan, where it swept the Lok Sabha elections comfortably.

Ever-rising prices of fuel and cooking gas have deeply troubled the common people throughout India. Except for the places where communal polarisation was intense, the anti-BJP sentiment caused by this uncapped rise in fuel prices, fuelling overall retail inflation, can be attributed as a major cause of the BJP’s defeat.

The polarisation impact

In Assam, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, intense communal and xenophobic campaigning paid a rich dividend to the BJP. In Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has raised the communal tempo to polarise the Hindus against the Muslims, and the BJP has successfully converted the “son of the soil” vs the “settler” issue into a Hindu-Muslim dichotomy.

As Haryana is one of the epicentres of the farmers’ movement against the BJP’s three farm laws, the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government has been using communal polarisation of the majority Hindus to ensure that the BJP’s vote bank remains consolidated.

From organising the “Hindu Mahapanchayat” assemblies to counter the farmers’ grand assemblies to promoting mob lynching of Muslims and creating ruckus over the community’s members using public space for offering their Friday prayers, the BJP has been turning Haryana’s politics murkier through its myriad obnoxious attempts to stay afloat politically, even as a detritus. This helped the BJP to narrow its margin against Chautala at the Ellenabad constituency.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP government has been strongly traversing through the trajectory of Uttar Pradesh. From mob violence to unleashing state violence against the minority Muslims, the BJP-led government, which was formed after poaching MLAs from the erstwhile Congress-ruled government, has been promoting an atmosphere of communal enmity in the state. This hyper-communal propaganda helped it secure a lead in the bypolls.

Where will the 2021 bypoll results lead India to?

Even though the Congress party is visibly happy over its performance in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, followed by Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, it will be too early to imply that the 2021 bypoll results will influence the crucial assembly elections in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa or Punjab, scheduled in 2022 or the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP has a system in place that rings an eerie alarm whenever the Party undergoes turbulence during bypolls. The vexing alarm has been ringing after the 2021 bypoll results. The BJP has called for a high-level meeting in New Delhi to analyse the results and discuss the course of action.

BJP chief JP Nadda himself hails from Himachal Pradesh. The ignominious performance in the hill state is a challenge for him as well. Even Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Anurag Thakur—notorious for his communal jibe “Shoot The Traitors” slogan in 2020 that resulted in the Delhi anti-Muslim pogrom in February 2020—also belongs to Himachal Pradesh.

Rajasthan is a key state for the BJP’s Hindutva fascist politics, especially the one linked with cow vigilante violence against the Muslims. By suffering a poll drubbing the BJP can’t jeopardise its prospects in Rajasthan, where it swept the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and attempted to topple the Congress party’s government using horse-trading in 2020 as well.

Soon after the results, the Modi regime slashed the Central Government’s duties on petrol and diesel slightly—insignificantly low vis-à-vis the increase over the last seven years—to help the prices cool down. Several of the BJP-ruled states have also slashed the state’s taxes on the prices to control the spiralling of fuel prices and their adverse impact on retail inflation.

However, remaining loyal to its pro-corporate, neo-liberal economic policies, the BJP didn’t take any concrete step to address the principal issues of India, rather limited itself within the ambit of taking cosmetic measures, like the price stint.

Whether the BJP can manage to captivate the voters again in all those places where it had lost the bypolls or the Opposition scores a brownie is yet to be seen. However, one can hope a little from the 2021 bypoll results as there are no visible silver linings on the horizon.

Rather than going ga-ga over the 2021 bypoll results, those who are serious about opposing the Hindutva fascist BJP’s hegemony must take concrete actions based on realist and future-oriented political plans. Unless such actions are taken, the phoney “Opposition” will keep the common people on an unending loop of elections and despair.

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