The BJP on Tuesday was set to sweep the assembly by-elections held last week with leads and wins in more than 40 of 59 seats across 11 states, including Madhya Pradesh where it was ahead in 19 of 28 constituencies, according to Election Commission trends.
India's ruling party was also poised to bag all the eight seats in Gujarat for which by-elections were held and five of seven constituencies in Uttar Pradesh that went to the polls in the first pan-India electoral exercise in the pandemic.
As the electoral juggernaut rolled and BJP workers, anticipating a win in the Bihar assembly polls, prepared for celebrations at the party's headquarters in New Delhi, votes were also counted for by-elections in Manipur (five seats), Haryana (one), Chhattisgarh (one), Jharkhand (two), Karnataka (two), Nagaland (two), Odisha (two) and Telangana (one).
If the by-elections spelt a likely big win for the BJP, it seemed dismal for the Congress, particularly in Madhya Pradesh where it could lose big. However, it did have a few scattered wins, including in BJP-ruled Haryana.
The votes for the November 3 by-elections were counted along with the ballots for the Bihar polls and progressed in accordance with Election Commission guidelines restricting the number of people in counting halls, officials said. Extensive measures were taken to ensure social distancing.
It's a high-stakes electoral battle, particularly in the central Indian state where the BJP-led Shivraj Singh Chouhan government is locked in a fierce contest with the Congress to save its government.
The BJP won five seats and was ahead in 14 seats leaving the Congress far behind with one win and seven leads, according to Election Commission trends. The BSP, interestingly, had one lead. Elections were held for 28 seats, the first time that so many bypolls were held together. The BJP has 107 MLAs in the assembly, with an effective strength of 229, and needs at least eight more MLAs for a simple majority. It will have an easy road to power if the trends hold out.
It is a crucial test for Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit the Congress with his loyalist MLAs to join the BJP, toppling the Congress-led Kamal Nath government. Elsewhere, the leads for the BJP varied from a little over 300 (Dabra) to more than 17,000 (Badnawar).
The BJP held sway over the party-ruled state with three wins and five leads — on the verge of bagging all eight seats — and the Congress trailing. As party workers broke into celebrations and burst firecrackers at its headquarters in Gandhinagar, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told reporters his party's performance was a “trailer” for the upcoming elections to local bodies and the 2022 assembly polls. Rupani said voters had rejected the "negative campaign and activities" of the Congress.
"Today BJP has emerged victorious across the country, whether it is Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat. This outcome is the result of the work done by Narendra Modi government and the support of people for the BJP," Rupani said.
Of the seven seats, the ruling BJP was ahead in five and the Samajwadi Party in two. Barring Malhani, which was with the SP, the other seats were in the ruling BJP's kitty.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged on Monday that the BJP was involved in "rigging”.
According to Election Commission trends, the BJP had won three seats and was leading in one with an Independent being voted unopposed in one. The by-elections were necessitated by Congress MLAs in four seats resigning from the Assembly and quitting the party to join the BJP.
The ruling BJP won both the seats for which by-elections were held, wresting Sira from the JD(S) and Rajarajeshwari Nagar from the Congress. It created history by recording its first ever victory in the Sira assembly segment Dr C M Rajesh Gowda winning with a margin of over 12,000 votes.
In R R Nagar, N Munirathana emerged winner with a margin of over 58,000 votes against his nearest Congress rival Kusuma.
The elections were necessitated by the death of Sira JD(S) MLA B Satyanarayana in August and the resignation of RR Nagar Congress MLA Munirathna from the assembly last year.
The state's ruling coalition retained both Dumka and Bermo, the former going to the JMM and the latter to the Congress, said Joint Chief Electoral Officer Hiralal Mandal.
Earlier in the day, BJP's Lois Marandi was leading in Dumka over Basant Soren, Chief Minister Hemant Soren's brother.
The state's ruling Biju Janata Dal was ahead in both the Balasore and Tirtol seats for which by-elections were held.
In a big win for the Congress, its candidate Indu Raj Narwal defeated the BJP's candidate, Olympian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, in the Baroda assembly seat in BJP-ruled Haryana. The Congress retained the seat with Narwal winning by over 10,000 votes, said officials.
“The victory of Indu Raj Narwal is a win of farmers and labourers. I assure residents of Baroda that the Congress will live up to their expectations,” tweeted Congress leader Kumari Selja.
The state's ruling Congress was ahead in the by-election to the Marwahi seat that was necessitated due to the death of Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) MLA and former chief minister Ajit Jogi.
The BJP was leading in the Dubbak Assembly constituency, which witnessed a three-cornered contest between the ruling TRS and opposition BJP and Congress.
The bypolls were called due to the death of sitting TRS MLA Solipeta Ramalinga Reddy in August this year. His widow Solipeta Sujatha was the ruling party's choice.
The National Democratic Progressive Party bagged the Southern Angami-I seat in Kohima while an Independent candidate was leading in the Pungro-Kiphire assembly segment in Kiphire district. The elections were necessitated following the deaths of the sitting legislators Vikho-o Yhoshu and T Torechu.