For the Congress, which tried to play down the bypoll results in Gujarat on Wednesday, it was indeed a harsh defeat. The BJP won two Lok Sabha seats - Porbandar and Banaskantha - both held by the Congress earlier, with a margin of over 1.28 lakh and 71,000 votes, respectively. Worse, the Porbandar seat was won by Vithhal Radadia who had defected to the BJP from Congress. (This was after he had got embroiled in a controversy during the last assembly elections for flaunting a sword at a toll gate.)
Apart from the two LS seats, the BJP also bagged the four assembly seats of Limbad, Morva Hadaf, Jetpur and Doraji in the state by handsome margins.
Meanwhile, in West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) managed to retain the Howrah Lok Sabha seat in the by-election by a margin of 27,015 votes, proving that the chit-fund scandal has not dented West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s popularity. The Congress ended a poor third.
However, it should be noted that Mamata’s nearest rival in West Bengal, the CPM, has narrowed the gap. In the 2009 elections, the same Howrah seat was won by TMC by a margin of 3,72,092 lakh votes.
In the same round of by-polls, the lone assembly seat of Handia in Uttar Pradesh was retained by the ruling Samajwadi Party, defeating its nearest rival Bahujan Samaj Party by a margin of 26,000 votes.
If the by-poll results are a curtain raiser for 2014, as Gujarat CM Narendra Modi claimed, then it shows that all the ruling parties in the states are retaining their political clout. But Bihar’s Nitish Kumar is the only exception.