It was expected but it happened sooner than expected – the Shiv Sena snub to the Narendra Modi led National Democratic alliance government, just a day after the bye-election results were announce, may well be the beginning of the dilution of the perception that ‘this government intends to perform and is here for a long haul’, if left unchecked.
BJP failed to live up to the expectations in the bye-elections held in Bihar (10 assembly seats), Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka (3 seats each) and Punjab (2 seats) after its spectacular performance in the Lok Sabha elections this year.
It was an unacceptable 7 seats for the BJP. Its Punjab ally SAD won 1. Bihar, the biggest theatre this time with 10 seats in the election fray, and the centrestage of the debate on the ‘bye-elections being referendum on Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar-Lalu Yadav-Congress combine exercise’ certainly let down Narendra Modi and Bhartiya Janata Party because the BJP had performed exceeding well in these assembly segments in the Lok Sabha polls and had won 6 out of these 10 in the last assembly polls. And even these 4 wins are not convincing. The BJP could retain the Hajipur seat with a victory margin of just over 6000 votes while the winning vote margin in Banka was miserable 711 votes.
Even in other states, in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, the BJP lost its strongholds, Aagar in Madhya Pradesh and Bellary Rural in Karnataka.
Within three months of the May 16 jubilation, it is a pinching letdown, given a bigger bypoll is slated the next month and four major assembly polls are due in the subsequent months.
The May 16 outcome had given the BJP an overwhelming majority and, theoretically, it didn’t need support from any other ally of the alliance. Practically, it went with the alliance sharing the portfolios with the alliance partners in the council of ministers. Yes, but the ‘overwhelming majority’ reflected when it didn’t allow any bargain and parties like the Shiv Sena had to accept the portfolio allocated after initial protests and sulking.