Saffron strides: The Hindu Editorial on the BJP’s Assembly bypoll wins

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s success owes a lot to the lack of imagination of its rivals

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s success owes a lot to the lack of imagination of its rivals

Results of the by-elections in seven Assembly seats across six states held on November 3 are encouraging for the BJP, while all its opponents have reasons to worry. The BJP won four seats — three that it held previously, and an additional seat vacated by a defector to the party. The results are a shot in the arm for the party that is defending its turf in two states that are going to polls — Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. In Haryana, the party won Adampur, which has remained with the Bhajan Lal family since 1966. The BJP’s candidate is the grandson of a former Congress satrap. The BJP retained Gopalganj in Bihar, but this time without an alliance with the JD(U), now in power in the State with the RJD. In Mokama, where the RJD-JD(U) alliance candidate won, the BJP gave a close fight, indicating that it remains formidable even after the end of its alliance with the JD(U). In Gola Gokrannath, Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won with an increased margin, showing that in a straight fight against the Samajwadi Party, it has an edge. The BJP came second in Telangana’s Munugode constituency, where it is trying to displace the Congress as the key challenger to the incumbent Telangana Rashtra Samithi. In Odisha, the party retained Dhamnagar with an increased margin.

The signals are not reassuring for the Congress, JD(U), RJD, SP and BJD that were the opponents of the BJP in these byelections. The defeat in Telangana puts the Congress in a spot — it finished a distant third behind the BJP. In Odisha, its position slid further, to finish fourth. The outcomes point to the challenges in converting the enthusiasm that Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra has created into votes. For the new coalition of the RJD and JD(U), the strand of social justice politics that it wants to create appears to be a steep task, if the results are any indication. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has been trying to stitch a national front together against the BJP, but the by-election has exposed his vulnerability on his home turf, despite the win. The BJD, dominant in Odisha, ceded more space to the BJP, which is nurturing ambitions to emerge as the front runner. The SP under Akhilesh Yadav is struggling to recover from serial setbacks. With his father Mulayam Singh no more, Mr. Yadav is fighting with his back to the wall. That the BJP has the resources, the resolve, and a willingness to use state power in its control in a brazen manner only partially explains its victories. A lack of imagination limits its opponents.

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