A string of defeats in bypolls held for several Parliamentary seats this year has seen the BJP slip precariously close to the halfway mark in Lok Sabha, putting its claim of being the ‘single largest party’ at risk. Resignations by two of its members — B S Yeddyurappa and B Sreeramulu, who are now MLAs — in Karnataka did not help the party’s cause.
The BJP’s tally in the lower house of Parliament now stands at 273 after it retained the Palghar seat in Maharashtra. With four vacant seats—three in Karnataka and one in J&K—the halfway mark is now 270.
Any further changes to the BJP’s tally, with a little over a year left for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, could mean it would need support from its allies to remain in power. In the last two years, the party has won just two Lok Sabha bypolls and failed to retain seven seats.
Crucially, the party ceded ground to the Congress in Ajmer and Alwar in Rajasthan before the state goes to polls (assembly) later this year. The BJP, however, was stung more by the defeats in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats in Uttar Pradesh. The seats were previously held by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.
In Thursday’s bypoll results, the BJP lost another Lok Sabha seat it had previously held in the state. RLD candidate Tabassum Hasan won the Kairana bypoll, becoming the first Muslim MP from UP in the current Lok Sabha.
With the Shiv Sena and Telugu Desam Party, who were previously part of the NDA, deciding to go it alone in the 2019 general elections, the seats held by other parties that are part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, is down to 23 seats.