This was the first electoral battle in the state since chief minister Nitish Kumar parted ways with the Grand Alliance of RJD and Congress and formed government with BJP support in July last year.
The byelection in Araria was necessitated following the death of sitting MP Md Taslimuddin. Jehanabad and Bhabhua assembly seats fell vacant following the death of Mundrika Prasad Yadav (RJD) and Anand Bhushan Pandey (BJP).
Taslimuddin’s son Sarfaraz Alam, who contested on the RJD ticket, defeated BJP’s Pradeep Kumar Singh by a margin of 61,788 votes. The combined strength of JD(U) and BJP, who had contested separately in 2014 poll, failed to breach the RJD stronghold. However, while Taslimuddin won by a margin of 1,46,504 votes in 2014, his son’s margin fell in the bypoll. Sarfaraz, who had won from Jokihat assembly constituency on a JD(U) ticket in 2015 polls, quit the party and the seat and joined RJD just before the bypoll.
RJD’s victory margin in Jehanabad increased by 4,715 votes as its candidate Kumar Krishna Mohan retained his father’s seat by defeating Abhiram Sharma of JD(U). Incidentally, JD(U) was requested by BJP to contest from Jehanabad after RLSP, led by Union minister Upendra Kushwaha, and HAM(S), led by former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, had staked their claims over the seat. Manjhi later quit NDA and joined the RJD-led Grand Alliance before the byelection.
BJP’s Rinky Rani Pandey retained the Bhabhua assembly seat that her husband Anand Bhushan Pandey represented before his death. She defeated Shambhu Singh Patel of Congress by 15,490 votes. Rinki’s husband had won the seat by defeating Pramod Kumar Singh of JD(U) by 7,744 votes in 2015 assembly election.
Reacting to the results, RJD tweeted from its president Lalu Prasad’s official handle, “The more you pour the fuel of conspiracy on Lalu, the brighter will his lantern burn. Millions of salutations to the people of Bihar for upholding justice. This is a victory of truth over falsehood.”
NDA, on the other hand, maintained that the bypolls maintained status quo on the three seats. “There was a sympathy wave. Nonetheless, if there was a Lalu factor, why didn’t it work in Bhabhua?” said deputy CM and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi in a tweet.