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The result in Kairana best illustrates this fact. In 2014, BJP had polled 50.6% of the votes. Had it been able to repeat that, no amount of coming together by the rest could have defeated the party. But as in Gorakhpur and Phulpur earlier this year, the arithmetic of opposition unity combined with a drop in BJP votes — to 46.5% — to deliver an adverse verdict.
What’s happened to vote shares is more difficult to work out in the other three Lok Sabha bypolls. In the two Maharashtra constituencies, Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya, BJP’s vote share dropped by about nine percentage points and nearly 23 percentage points respectively. But then, its votes in 2014 included Sena’s support base since the two parties had contested as allies. So exactly how much of an erosion there is in the BJP vote is difficult to say. What is certain, however, is an increase in the Congress-NCP combine’s vote share in Bhandara-Gondiya by more than eight percentage points since 2014. In Palghar, in contrast, this alliance was reduced to also ran status as the contest became between the BJP, Sena and BVA.
In the remaining Lok Sabha bypoll, in Nagaland, it was a repeat of a contest between two NDA constituents with NPF and NDPP facing off. As in the assembly polls, BJP backing NDPP seems to have tilted the balance.
Analysing vote shares in the 10 assembly contests shows that in most cases BJP’s vote share has declined. However, it has risen in Maheshtala in West Bengal to the extent that the party has taken second spot ahead of CPM, furthering a trend noticed in the recent local body polls. BJP’s vote share has risen significantly in Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh, from 39% in last year’s assembly polls to 47.2% now. But that was simply not enough to match the united strength of the opposition.
Beyond the big states of UP and Maharashtra, what would cause BJP some concern is the decline in its vote share in Chengannur in Kerala from 29.3% in the 2016 assembly polls to 23.2% now. Seen as a stronghold of the Nair community, BJP would have hoped for a better showing in this seat if it is to make serious inroads in a state that has proved a hard nut to crack for the party.
With the result in RR Nagar in Bengaluru showing an uptick in Congress vote share and in the combined Congress-JD(S) share from the 2013 assembly polls, it would appear that BJP’s hopes that the voters of the state will be disgusted with an ‘unprincipled’ alliance have been dashed.