India, the largest democracy in the world, is known as a country of elections. Almost every month, an election is held in some part of the country. In 2018 alone, assembly polls were conducted in nine states. Moreover, by-elections were held in 13 Lok Sabha seats and 16 assembly seats across the country. The year 2018 assumes significance for the Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the former made a resounding comeback after consecutive debacles, and the latter started losing grip over the country's political discourse in the last 12 months.
By-elections to Lok Sabha in 2018: By-elections were held in 13 parliamentary seats spread across seven states in 2018. While the BJP had to bear the loss of seven seats in these bypolls, the Congress bagged three seats bringing its tally to 47 in the lower house of Parliament. Of the seven seats, the BJP lost three to Congress (Alwar and Ajmer in Rajasthan, Bellary in Karnataka), two to Samajwadi Party (Gorakhpur and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh), one to RLD (Kairana in Uttar Pradesh) and one to NCP (Bhandara-Gondiya in Maharashtra). It retained Shivamogga parliamentary seat in Karnataka.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, also known as TMC, retained Ulberia Lok Sabha seat in West Bengal. Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD won Araria seat in Bihar. The Janata Dal (Secular) retained Mandya seat in Karnataka and the NDPP won in Nagaland parliamentary constituency. What's in a Name? Here Are The Places With New Names Approved by Modi Government in The Year 2018.
By-elections to Assemblies in 2018: As many as 16 assembly seats spread across 11 states went to by-elections in the year 2018. In these bypolls, the BJP and its ally parties together lost four seats - Noorpur in Uttar Pradesh to the Samajwadi Party, Shahkot in Punjab to the Congress, Jokihat in Bihar to the RJD and Jayanagar in Karnataka to the Congress. Shahkot and Jokihay seats were held by BJP's ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Janata Dal (United) respectively. In Gujarat, however, the saffron party snatched Jasdan assembly seat from Congress.
The Congress managed to retain four seats - Palus-Kadegaon in Maharashtra, Ampati in Meghalaya, RR Nagar and Jamkhani in Karnataka. Besides, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) retained Gomia and Silli seats in Jharkhand, CPI(M) Chengannur in Kerala, TMC Maheshtala in West Bengal and JD(S) Ramanagra in Karnataka.
State Assembly Elections in 2018: The assembly elections were held in nine states - Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland. In these state assembly polls, the most significant development was the BJP's defeat by the resurging Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Besides losing three states in the Hindi heartland, the BJP failed to form the government in Karnataka despite emerging as the single largest party.
The good news for the BJP came from Tripura where it ended the Left's 25-year rule. In Nagaland, the NDPP-BJP alliance snatched power from the Naga People's Front. While the Congress seized the power in Karnataka with the help of JD(S) and regained lost ground in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, it lost power in Mizoram to the Mizo National Front and in Meghalaya to the National People's Party. In Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi retained power with two-thirds majority in the state assembly.
Overall, the year 2018 sent a message that the BJP's dream of a Congress-mukt Bharat is far from reality for now. The victory of alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka against the BJP also shows the saffron party is no longer invincible.