New Delhi: Just three months after the BJP-led alliance swept the Lok Sabha polls, the new combine of the RJD, JD-U and Congress stunned the BJP by winning six of the 10 assembly seats in Bihar.
Wild celebrations erupted outside the offices of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in particular, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- on the same road -- was deserted as the by-election results came in.
In a stunning reversal of fortunes, the RJD won three seats, its new found ally JD-U two while the Congress wrested the Bhagalpur seat from the BJP after a gap of 23 long years.
The RJD victories came from Mohiuddinnagar, Rajnagar and Chapra. The JD-U won in Jale and Parbatta.
The BJP, which was confident of crushing the opposition, was declared elected from Hajipur, Mohania, Narkatiaganj and Banka constituencies. Its ally, the Lok Janshakti Party, was routed.
Of the 10 seats, the BJP had won six, the RJD three and the JD-U one in the last assembly elections in 2010.
The Aug 21 by-elections were seen as a litmus test for both the BJP as well as the RJD and JD-U, which came together after two decades soon after the Lok Sabha results came out in May.
The Congress later joined the alliance to take on the BJP-LJP combine.
RJD leader Ashok Kumar Sinha said the victory of the new alliance showed that the "magic of Lalu and Nitish has clicked", referring to former chief ministers Lalu Prasad (RJD) and Nitish Kumar (JD-U).
Nitish Kumar resigned as chief minister in May after the Lok Sabha disaster. A new JD-U government, led by Jitan Ram Manjhi, took power with the backing of its former foe, the RJD.
"The Modi factor has failed," Sinha gloated, referring to BJP mascot and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
JD-U leader Sanjay Singh said the results proved that Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar were right in joining hands again.
"It was the first major political test after the general election and ahead of next year's assembly polls in Bihar," he said. "The alliance of RJD-JD-U-Congress has gained."
BJP leaders in the state were shattered but put up a brave front.
BJP's Syed Shahnawaz Hussain took moral responsibility for the poor showing. Party spokesman Vinod Narain Jha, however, claimed the results would have no impact on the assembly polls next year.
In Bhagalpur, Ajit Sharma of the Congress won by 8,000 votes over Nabhay Choudhary of BJP.
The by-election was caused by the resignation of former minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Buxar on a BJP ticket.
"It is a big win for Congress," state Congress president Ashok Choudhary said. The BJP had been winning the seat since 1990.
Bhagalpur, an urban centre, was considered a stronghold of the BJP.
Reacting to Bihar by-poll results, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad tweeted, “People of Bihar are the masters. I thank all the candidates of the “Grand alliance” who won the bypolls. Voters have rectified the mistake they made during 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.”
The ruling Congress Monday wrested the prestigious Bellary (ST) seat and retained Chikkodi-Sadalga seat while the BJP won from Shikaripura in assembly by-elections in Karnataka.
N.Y. Gopalakrishna of the Congress trounced Obalesh of the Bharatiya Janata Party by 33,104 votes in the Bellary reserved constituency, 330 km from Bangalore.
Of the total votes polled, Gopalakrishna secured 83,906 and Obalesh 50,802.
The election was caused by the resignation of former BJP minister B.R. Sriramulu, who contested on the BSR ticket in the May 2013 assembly polls, on winning the Bellary Lok Sabha seat on BJP ticket.
In Chikkodi-Sadalga, Ganesh Hukkeri of the Congress won by 31,820 votes defeating K.M. Mallikarjun of the BJP.
The resignation of former Congress minister Prakash Hukkeri, father of Ganesh, after he won the Chikkodi Lok Sabha seat caused the by-election in this constituency, about 570 km from Bangalore.
In Shikaripura, B.Y. Raghavendra of the BJP defeated H.S. Shanthavirappa Gowda of the Congress by a slender margin of 6,430 votes to retain the seat.
The resignation of former BJP chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on winning from the Shimoga Lok Sabha seat necessitated the by-poll in Shikaripura in Malnad region, about 260 km from Bangalore.
The by-elections witnessed a record voter turnout in all three assembly segments, with 86 percent in Chikkodi, 72 percent in Shikaripura and 71 percent in Bellary.
In a setback to BJP, Congress wrested the Bahoriband Assembly seat from the ruling party which emerged victorious in Agar and Vijayraghavgarh segments in the by-elections, results of which were announced today.
Sourabh Singh, who joined Congress recently after quitting BSP, won from Bahoriband by a margin of 7,977 votes.
The BJP wrested Vijayraghavgarh from Congress as its candidate Sanjay Pathak won by a convincing margin of 53,397 votes over Congress' former Mayor Brajendra Mishra Pathak secured 90,084 votes, while Mishra got 36,687.
Pathak had won the 2013 Assembly election from Vijaraghavgarh on a Congress ticket with a thin margin. He later joined the BJP during Lok Sabha elections following differences with senior Congress leaders.
The victory in Bahoriband may boost the morale of Congress, which has been out of power in the state since 2003. At the seat, Sourabh bagged 76,712 votes while BJP's Pranav Pandey got 68,735 votes in a keenly contested by-poll held on August 21.
In the run up to the election, former Congress MLA Nishith Patel from the same seat had joined BJP. The by-poll in Bahoriband was necessitated after sitting BJP MLA Prabhat Pandey, who won the poll in 2013, died. BJP fielded his son Pranav from the seat.
Meanwhile, BJP retained the Agar Assembly seat with its candidate Gopal Parmar defeating Congress' Rajkumar Gore by a margin of 27,102 votes.
The by-poll was necessitated in Agar (Malwa) after sitting BJP MLA Manohar Untwal got elected as MP from Dewas Lok Sabha seat.
Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress won one seat each in the by-polls to Patiala (urban) and Talwandi Sabo Assembly seats today but the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) finished a poor third.
It was a gain for ruling SAD which fought a strong anti-incumbency factor to wrest control over Talwandi Sabo seat from the Congress.
Both Patiala (urban) and Talwandi Sabo seats were with the Congress before they fell vacant.
Patiala seat fell vacant after sitting Congress MLA and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh got elected to Lok Sabha from Amritsar, whereas Talwandi Sabo Assembly seat faced by-poll as sitting Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Sidhu deserted the party to join the ruling SAD.
Talwandi Sabo Assembly under Bathinda district was retained by SAD's Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in the recently held Lok Sabha polls. After the election, Harsimrat was given a ministerial berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir had campaigned vigorously in Talwandi Sabo leaving no stone unturned to ensure the victory of party candidate and “turncoat” Sidhu.
Patiala's royal family maintained its stronghold on Patiala seat, considered to be the strong bastion of the family.
After retaining Patiala seat, Amarinder Singh had emerged as a strong leader of the party in Punjab. He had limited his campaigning for his wife in the run up to the by-polls to Patiala seat.
Preneet, a three time MP was defeated by AAP's Dharamvira Gandhi in the Lok Sabha polls.
While Amarinder preferred to campaign for his wife, his bete noire and Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa confined his campaigning to Talwandi Sabo. AAP which sprung a surprise in the recently held Lok Sabha polls by winning four out of total 13 seats in Punjab, performed badly in the by-polls as its candidates finished third.
Preneet, wife of former chief minister Amarinder Singh, won over her nearest SAD rival by a margin of over 23,282 votes, an election office spokesman said.
Kaur polled 52,967 votes, SAD nominee Bhagwan Dass Juneja 29,685 and AAP candidate Harjit S Adaltiwala 5,724 votes. AAP's candidate lost his security deposit, an election office spokesman said.
Patiala's SAD candidate Juneja not only lost the poll, his son died of cardiac arrest last night. Keeping this in mind, Preneet canceled her victory procession and expressed sympathies with the bereaved family. In Talwandi Sabo, SAD's Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu won by a margin of 46,642 votes against his nearest Congress rival Harminder Singh Jassi, a former Congress MLA and close relative of Haryana's Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda sect Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
According to an election office spokesman, Sidhu polled 71,747 votes, Jassi 25,105, AAP's Baljinder Kaur 13,899. Balkar Singh, who was first declared as party candidate by AAP and later replaced by Baljinder Kaur, polled 6,305 votes.
Sidhu was once a close associate of Amarinder Singh. While a total of eight contestants fought for Patiala seat, seven candidates contested from Talwandi Sabo. Both the seats witnessed a triangular contest between SAD, Congress and AAP.
In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, ruling SAD's strength had increased to 57 MLAs, while its ally BJP has 12, Congress moved to 45 members and independents three.
After the results, SAD fell one short of getting simple majority as it needed a win on both the assembly seats for it. SAD has alliance with BJP in the state.
The by-polls to the two seats were held on August 21. While Talwandi Sabo, which falls under Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency from where Sukhbir's wife Harsimrat Kaur won, had witnessed 82.34 per cent turnout, 60 per cent polling was recorded in Patiala seat, a traditional bastion of Patiala royal family of Amarinder.
Meanwhile, reacting over the by-poll results, Punjab's AAP spokesman H S Phoolka said that the party welcomes the peoples' verdict.
“AAP is there to provide an alternative to the people and also clean politics...it is for the people to decide what they want,” he said, adding that AAP was not greedy for posts. “People wanted change in the political system that is why the AAP existed,” he said.
Both Preneet and Sidhu asserted that they would fight for the cause of their respective assembly segments in the Vidhan Sabha.