The Congress has something to cheer after its recent poor showing in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. It won a Lok Sabha seat — Udupi — in Karnataka and wrested an assembly seat — Mansa — in Gujarat, two strong BJP ruled states, in the recently held by-elections.
“In Karnataka we have won the seat vacated by the chief minister, and in Gujarat we have wrested the seat that fell vacant due to the speaker’s death,” said party spokesperson Rashid Alvi while claiming that these were indicators of the direction in which the wind is blowing.
However, the Congress suffered big reverses in Andhra Pradesh, as it failed to win even a single seat put of the seven that went to polls. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, the BJP, and independents and a candidate fielded by Jaganmohan Reddy emerged winners.
However, the Congress appeared unfazed by these setbacks. “The outcome in AP is expected. The Telangana statehood issue needs to be handled before we get back on the rails in the state,” said a senior Congressman.
In Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK retained the Sankarankoil assembly seat by winning with a huge margin. All other candidates lost their deposits.
For the Congress, the victory in Gujarat has come as a big surprise. It’s a shocker for the BJP. What makes the wound deeper for the BJP is the margin of victory — 8,000 votes — which has made the Congress victory as convincing as it can be. Congress’s Babuji Thakore defeated the BJP candidate DD Patel to wrest the Mansa seat which had been with the saffron party since 1995.
In 2007, the Congress had lost in Mansa by 2,400 votes making it a closely fought election that could have gone either way. Further, as the ruling party is seen as having the upper hand in by-elections, the drubbing in Mansa is particularly humiliating for the BJP.
The story in Karnataka is something similar as the Congress won the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha constituency, which had remained a strong bastion of BJP in the last four elections.
Late Srikantappa, a Vokkalinga leader, had won thrice and after re-alignment of the constituency, the seat was held by Sadananda Gowda in 2009 election.