Bypoll shock for Modi-Shah reduces BJP to 272 MPs in Lok Sabha
Though JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar is now back in the NDA fold, he along with Lalu Prasad of the RJD gave the powerful political idea of Mahagathbandhan in 2015 Bihar Assembly election to defeat a rampaging BJP. The template was repeated in the Lok Sabha bypolls this year with the same result.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati agreed to work together and present a united contest against the BJP in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies.
The BJP, which had won both the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats in 2014 elections when Narendra Modi wave swept almost entire North India, tasted defeat against the grand alliance. The bypoll results are likely to set the tone for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
With losses in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the BJP's current tally in the Lok Sabha is 272, down from 282 that it had won in 2014. There are 536 members in the Lok Sabha at present with seven seats presently vacant. The BJP still has majority on its own in the Lok Sabha. With NDA allies, it has imposing majority in the lower house.
The twin by-election losses are the first defeat of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh after its outstanding performances in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and Assembly polls in 2017. But, the party has been on a losing spree as far as Lok Sabha bypolls are concerned.
In January this year, the BJP lost two more Lok Sabha bypolls at Ajmer and Alwar to the Congress in Rajasthan, where the party had won all the 25 seats in 2014 elections. The victory in Ajmer and Alwar bypolls had taken Congress' strength in the Lok Sabha to 48, up from 44 seats that it had won in 2014 elections.
In 2017, the BJP had lost Gurdaspur seat in Punjab to Congress. The seat had fallen vacant due to the death of BJP's Vinod Khanna.
As many as 20 Lok Sabha bypolls have been held since 2014 general elections. Of the 20 seats, the BJP has won only three. However, most of the bypolls were held in constituencies that were not with the BJP previously.
Six Lok Sabha bypolls have been held this year and the BJP has failed to win a single seat across four states - Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The BJP had won seven of these seats in the past. Four of these seats were won by the BJP in 2014.
The BJP lost one MP from Maharashtra in December last year after he quit the party and resigned from the Lok Sabha seat. Bypolls for seven vacant Lok Sabha seats are yet to be notified by the Election Commission.
While the BJP is expanding its reach in many states where it had negligible presence earlier, the losing streak in the Lok Sabha bypolls rings an alarm for the party ahead of 2019 elections.
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