New Delhi: This was a birthday gift Prime Minister Narendra Modi could well have done without.
On the eve of his 64th birthday, the BJP was dealt a body blow in byelections in three crucial states, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The party lost 13 of the 23 seats held by it.
Tuesday’s bypoll debacle comes after the BJP’s dismal performance in Uttarkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar in the past two months. Repeated poll debacles have now put a questionmark on the popularity of Prime Minister Modi. Only four months ago, the BJP, riding high on the Modi wave, had stormed into power at the Centre.
The outcome of the bypolls appears to have given an upper hand to the Shiv Sena, which has locked horns with the BJP over seat-sharing in the coming Assembly polls in Maharashtra.
The RPI, a BJP ally in that state, said the “results show it’s not going to be easy for us”.
Of 32 Assembly seats across nine states, the BJP won 12, the Congress seven and the Samajwadi Party eight, while the Telugu Desam, Trinamul Congress, AIUDF and CPI(M) won one each. One seat in Sikkim was won by an Independent. The Counting in Antagarh in Chhattisgarh, which is held by the BJP, will be taken up on September 20.
The only consolation for the BJP was that it could open its account in West Bengal after 15 years. Of the two seats that went to the polls in West Bengal, the BJP and TMC won one each.
Dedicating its victory in Basirhat South to BJP founding father Syama Prasad Mookerjee, party secretary and Bengal in-charge Siddharth Nath Singh said: “This is our shradhanjali to Syama Prasad Mookerjee.”
BJP leaders, conceding that the bypoll results were not up to the party’s expectations, said that there would be a thorough analysis and introspection. Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed claimed that the byelection results were a clear indication that “Modi’s honeymoon is over”.