The Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal on April 16 won the Bochaha (Reserved) Assembly bypoll, defeating the ruling NDA candidate by a record margin of over 36,000 votes.
The bypoll was held on April 12 and was necessitated by the death of Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) MLA Musafir Paswan.
RJD candidate Amar Paswan got 82,562 votes, while NDA candidate from BJP Baby Kumari received 45,909 votes. The VIP’s Geeta Devi got 29,279 votes and was relegated to third position. Ms. Devi is the daughter of RJD leader Ramai Ram, a multiple-time MLA from the Bochaha (Reserved) seat.
“It’s not a victory for the RJD; the candidate Musafir Paswan got the sympathy votes due to the death of his father Musafir Paswan,” said State BJP leaders, while Opposition RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav thanked the people of Bochaha for their “judicious work” in defeating an “opportunist NDA coalition government and their anti-people policies and arrogance.”
“The RJD had raised issues of unemployment, inflation, collapsed education, health, agriculture and the law and order situation in the State during the Bochaha bypoll campaign,” Mr. Yadav said in a tweet.
The VIP’s Ms. Devi had left the counting centre even before the results were announced.
The Bochaha seat, reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, had fallen vacant after the death of Paswan, who had won the 2020 Assembly poll for the VIP led by Bollywood set designer-turned-politician Mukesh Sahani.
Mr. Sahani initially wanted to field the former MLA’s son Amar Paswan but Mr. Paswan jumped ship suddenly and came into the fray as RJD candidate.
Mr. Sahani had entered the BJP’s bad books after he repeatedly attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath while campaigning for the Assembly elections in U.P., where his party contested more than 50 seats but lost poorly.
Recently, all three MLAs of the VIP had joined the BJP and Mr. Sahani was dropped from the Nitish Kumar Cabinet as Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Minister.
With three VIP MLAs in its kitty, the BJP had become the single largest party in the State Assembly with 77 legislators and now, with the Bochaha bypoll win, the RJD is just one seat behind the BJP with 76 MLAs. The JD(U) has 45 and the Congress and Left parties have 19 and 15 MLAs respectively in the State Assembly’s 243 seats.
After Mr. Sahani’s exit from the NDA, the Bochaha bypoll had become a prestige issue for the BJP. As many as 35 BJP MLAs and several Ministers were said to be camping in Bochaha to win the bypoll.
“The party tried its best to woo the decisive upper-caste Bhumihar votes in the bypoll by involving party leaders of the caste to camp in Bochaha to campaign for several days but the party failed to garner their support. And, like in the State council poll, the Bhumihar voted for the RJD candidate and this is a new electoral equation emerging in the State’s political firmament,” said political analyst Ajay Kumar.
“The so-called Bhumihar leaders in NDA are politically surviving because of our community and it is not because of them that the community is surviving. They cannot take us for granted,” said Rajesh Kumar of Kankerbagh, who is from the Bhumihar community.
“We wanted to teach BJP a lesson and we did that,” he added.