Two BJP Chief Ministers may find themselves in a tricky spot after results to the October 30 bypolls were declared.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and his Karnataka counterpart Basavaraj S Bommai have cause to worry against the backdrop of the BJP swiftly replacing four Chief Ministers in six months — Vijay Rupani in Gujarat, B S Yediyurappa in Karnataka and Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat in Uttarakhand.
The BJP’s rout in Himachal was the most bitter, as arch rival Congress swept the three Assembly and the one Lok Sabha seat that went to polls on October 30.
Mr Thakur accepted the defeats and said the party will learn from them. He attributed the Congress’s win in the Mandi Lok Sabha seat to the party playing an “emotional card” by fielding former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh.
Urging party workers not to be demotivated by the results, he told them that they must start preparing for next year’s Assembly polls.
The fact that the state polls are only a few months away is no reason for Mr Thakur to feel relieved about his post, thanks to the BJP’s “no-repeat” strategy. In Gujarat, also headed for polls next year, the BJP replaced the whole state cabinet in an apparent attempt to divert criticism away from the party and towards individual leaders.
For Mr Bommai, the challenge is of a different kind. The October 30 bypolls to two Assembly seats were the first major electoral test for the Lingayat leader who was elevated as Chief Minister after his predecessor Mr Yediyurappa stepped down following long-drawn deliberations with the BJP central leadership.
While the BJP wrested the Sindgi seat from Janata Dal (Secular), it is the defeat in his home turf Hangal that has come as a setback for Mr Bommai. This defeat will hurt more as the Chief Minister had campaigned extensively in the constituency in the run up to the polls. More so, because the defeat is a missed opportunity to consolidate his position in the state party unit.
Mr Bommai, however, put up a brave front in a Twitter post, saying that “defeat in the democratic system is normal”.