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16 Jun 2021, Edition - 2164, Wednesday

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2020 in elections in India: How BJP retained leadership in polls



Marred by the Covid-19 spread and the consequent lockdown and economic misery, 2020 saw several indicator-elections at the two ends of the pandemic.

Two states went to the polls — Delhi in February when the coronavirus was not yet perceived as a danger in India, and Bihar in October-November when the pandemic showed a declining trend in the country.

More than 70 Rajya Sabha MPs were elected, several keenly watched Assembly bypolls were held and quite a few local body elections generated huge interest among people.

Here is a look at how India voted in 2020 in various elections:

Delhi was the first to go to the polls in February for 70 seats of the Assembly. The election was held against the backdrop of relentless protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party easily retained power in the national capital territory winning 62 seats. It had won 67 in the 2015 Delhi Assembly election.

The BJP improved its tally from three in 2015 to eight. But the Congress, which ruled Delhi for three consecutive terms before a Kejriwal wave ousted it from power, failed to win a single seat in the second consecutive Delhi Assembly election.

The Congress not only polled less than five per cent of votes in Delhi, 63 of its 66 candidates also forfeited deposits. That is, only three Congress candidates got more than 10 per cent of the votes secured by the winning candidates in their constituencies.

Bihar went to the polls in October-November in three phases for 243 assembly seats. In a tight contest, the BJP-led NDA emerged winner with 125 seats, three more than the majority mark required to form government in Bihar.

For the first time in 15 years, the BJP became the senior partner in the NDA winning more seats than the JDU of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Other alliance partners HAM and VIP won four seats each.

The rival Mahagathbandhan of the RJD, the Congress, and the Left parties won 110 seats with the RJD’s chief ministerial aspirant Tejaswhi Yadav alleging electoral malpractice during the counting of votes. The RJD emerged as the single-largest party winning 75 seats – one more than the BJP. The Congress proved to be a weak link in the alliance.

A total of 74 Rajya Sabha MPs were elected in 2020, at least 16 of them were elected unopposed. A maximum of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs were elected from Uttar Pradesh – all unopposed. The BJP was the main gainer increasing its tally by 12 in the Rajya Sabha taking the NDA closest ever to the majority mark in the house.

One member was nominated to the Rajya Sabha this year – former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. His nomination to the Rajya Sabha led to much hue and cry with Opposition and critics linking it with the independence of the judiciary in India.

Several states saw bypolls due to defection of MLAs or the death of the sitting legislators. The by-election to 28 seats of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly was one of the highlights as it was necessitated due to a side-switch by 25 Congress MLAs to the BJP which also led to a change of government in the state.

When the bypolls were held, the BJP won 19 of the contested seats. The Congress won the remaining nine. Interestingly, the BJP that held just one of the seats – Agar constituency in Devas — where bypolls were held lost that seat to the Congress.

In Uttar Pradesh, bypolls were held on seven seats. The BJP retained its six seats while the Samajwadi Party retained its own. In Gujarat, the Congress lost all eight seats where bypolls were held to the ruling BJP.

Another major defeat for the Congress came in Manipur, where it lost five seats in the bypolls – four to the BJP and one to an Independent candidate. The Congress and JDS lost one seat each they had held to the BJP in the bypolls held in November.

Another assembly by-election that made national headlines was that of Dubbaka in Telangana. The ruling TRS had won this seat in the 2018 election by a huge margin but lost this seat to the BJP in the bypolls last month.

The Congress retained its lone seat going to bypolls in Haryana, and also grabbed one seat in Chhattisgarh from Janata Congress Party of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, whose death necessitated the by-election at Marwahi seat.

Bypolls were also held in Odisha – where the ruling BJD won all three seats, grabbing one from the BJP, Nagaland – 2 seats, and Jharkhand where the Congress and the JMM retained their seats, one seat.

Some local body elections too made national news during the year. The biggest of that was the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) election. The BJP surprised many and came second in the election results winning 48. The ruling TRS won 56, the AIMIM 44 and the Congress two.

The BJP sent its top leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP president JP Nadda and several Union ministers for campaigning in the GHMC polls. They were up against Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, the TRS president, and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi.

Municipal and panchayat elections in Kerala became another talking point with the BJP going “inclusive” in the local body polls. The party fielded more than 600 Christian and Muslim candidates eyeing to emerge as the third political force in next year’s Kerala Assembly election.

The District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir are another highlight of 2020. These are the first polls to be held in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, bifurcation of the erstwhile state, converting the resulting entities into two Union Territories. The alliance of former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti is also in the contest in the DDC polls.

The Rajasthan panchayat polls held recently were discussed widely for bucking the trend of voting for the incumbent government in Jaipur. The BJP outperformed the ruling Congress in the panchayat samitis and zila parishads only weeks after the Congress had dominated the mayoral election in Rajasthan.

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