In a major boost to Narendra Modi in the party's prime ministerial race, the BJP today swept the six bye elections to Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Gujarat while his detractor Nitish Kumar suffered a blow in Bihar and Congress drew a blank in four states.
Wresting all the six seats from Congress in Gujarat, the BJP won the Lok Sabha bye elections in Porbandar and Banaskantha with a margin of over 1.28 lakh and 71,000 votes respectively and bagged the Assembly seats of Limbadi, Morva Hadaf, Jetpur and Doraji by handsome margins.
Interestingly, the BJP candidate Vithhal Radadia, who defected from Congress after a controversy last year when he brandished a gun at a toll booth, won the Porbandar Lok Sabha seat. Banaskantha went to Haribhai Chaudhry of BJP.
The bye election results came as a boost to Modi in the race for prime ministership in BJP, whose National Executive will be meeting in Goa this weekend when he may be made the head of the party's campaign committee for the next year's Lok Sabha polls.
The defeat of ruling JD(U) in Bihar was a major victory for RJD chief Lalu Prasad, whose party won the Lok Sabha bye election from Maharajganj with a margin of over 1.37 lakh votes.
Maharajganj, held by RJD rpt RJD in 2009 general elections, was now secured by RJD's Prabhunath Singh who polled over 3.81 lakh votes. JD(U) candidate P K Shahi got over 2.44 lakh votes and Congress candidate Jitendra Swami came a poor third with over 22,000 votes. Prabhunath Singh was a JD(U) MP in the last Lok Sabha.
In the lone Lok Sabha bye election in Howrah in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress retained the seat with a margin of over 27,000 votes defeat the nearest CPI(M) rival nudging the Congress to the third spot.
In New Delhi for a Chief Minister's conference, Modi immediately latched on to the "100 per cent victory" and claimed it was symptomatic of the people's anger against the Congress-led UPA at the Centre and a message to the Congress "pack up".
Endorsing his views, BJP President Rajnath Singh said people are angry with the UPA government. Today's results would have a deep impact on the Congress which faces its worst defeat in the next elections, he said.
Buoyed by his party victory, Lalu Prasad said this was only a semi final and that RJD would sweep all the 40 seats in the "finals" next year in the Lok Sabha polls. All sections of the people including women were angry with the Bihar chief minister and his government, he claimed.
While Modi claimed the BJP victory was an "ultimatum" to the Congress, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said BJP had nothing to be proud of the victory in Gujarat where a candidate described by the chief minister as gun-toting defected to his party and has won.
Vitthal Radadia's son Jayesh, who too quit Congress to join BJP along with his father, won Jetpur assembly seat thumping Jagdish Pambhar of Congress by a massive 52,910 votes.
BJP's Kiritsinh Rana, a former state minister won Limbadi seat defeating Congress candidate Satish Patel by 24,787 votes.
The by-election was necessitated after Satish Patel's father Congress MP Soma Patel, who had won from Limbadi assembly constituency too, resigned as MLA.
In Dhoraji, the seat vacated by Vitthal Radadia after he quit Congress and resigned from assembly, BJP's Pravin Mankadia won by 11,497 votes defeating his Congress rival Haribhai Patel.
With today's victory BJP's tally in the 182-member Gujarat assembly has gone up to 119, while Congress has 57 MLAs, Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) and NCP two each, and Independent and JD(U) one each.
In the lone Assembly bye election in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling Samajwadi Party retained the Handia seat by defeating its nearest BSP rival by a huge margin of 26,000 votes.
Congress and BJP continued with their dismal show, registered in the last year's Assembly elections, by securing 3,809 and 2,550 votes and losing their deposits.