Congress president Rahul Gandhi's meeting with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar hours after the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Lok Sabha bypoll results were announced shows that the Congress leadership is serious on forging a bigger alliance of opposition parties, the NCP said on Friday.
With the BJP holding on to its Bhabhua Assembly segment, there are surely deeper meanings attached to the bypoll outcome.
Sources in Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party said the Union minister hosted the dinner as part of the Narendra Modi government's corrective measures following reports from the ground that suggested the Dalits had voted against the BJP in the recent by-elections. In an alliance with its arch-rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati, the Samajwadi Party won the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats with a thumping majority.
The editorial referred to the BJP's stunning victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls previous year as it attacked the party over its loss in the Gorakhpur byoll.
"The 2019 elections, people are of the view that there should be a Grand Alliance at national level".
Akhilesh Yadav addresses a press conference after the verdict. Image courtesy Twitter Samajwadi Party
"Since 2014, how many deals has the BJP entered into for power..." Their desperation was visible when BJP state president Nityanand Rai made a provocative speech during the by-election campaign for the Araria Lok Sabha seat by claiming that Araria would become a "den of the ISIS" if RJD candidate Sarfaraz Alam won.
"Amidst all this, it is clear now, that in 2019, the BJP's numbers will not be 280, but it will plummet by at least 100-110 seats". Kumar's JD (U) suffered a crushing defeat in Jehanabad. It was clearly late and Nitish had to pay the price of agreeing to his alliance partner. Joining the fray today was Shiv Sena, the estranged ally of BJP in Maharashtra. The first is that BJP has a real challenge in 2019 Lok Sabha elections if SP and BSP decide to continue with the alliance and contest against the BJP.
The biggest worrying sign for the NDA is the simple fact that Araria and Jehanabad are located in two corners of Bihar. Since 1991, Adityanath had never lost the Gorakhpur seat.
For the RJD, the win in Araria and Jehanabad is significant because it was being fought in the absence of chief Lalu Prasad who is now in jail in the fodder scam case.
Some LJP leaders also said Paswan was trying to regain political relevance in his home state, Bihar, in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections next year. It marked the coming of age for Tejashwi as a leader in his own right. But anxious faces in JD (U) and BJP clearly suggest that they have understood the challenges ahead.