The results of the bypolls to three Lok Sabha and 29 assembly seats on Tuesday delivered the first major setback to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in two key northern states amid the farmers’ agitation as Congress made significant electoral gains in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The BJP also lost to Congress the Hangal assembly constituency in the home district of Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai. The BJP and its allies, however, swept the by-elections in northeast, winning all nine seats. BJP posted victories on all the three Assembly seats in Assam it had fielded candidates, while alliance partner UPPL won the remaining two. The BJP also posted victories in Mizoram and Meghalaya.

The results also assume significance as assembly elections are just months away in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur and Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh go to polls later next year.

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In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress retained Fatehpur and Arki and wrested the Jubbal-Kotkhai from BJP, which lost its security deposit on the Assembly seat. Congress also sprung a surprise against the BJP in the Lok Sabha seat of Mandi, the home district of chief minister Jairam Thakur. 

In Rajasthan, the ruling Congress retained Vallabhnagar and gained the Dhariawad Assembly seat. The Congress also won the Raigaon (SC) assembly bypoll in Madhya Pradesh and retained the Deglur assembly seat in Maharashtra.

Congress leaders trumped the bypolls results as a sign of discontent among voters against the BJP amid rising inflation and fuel prices and a verdict against the ruling party’s handling of protests by farmer unions against the three agriculture laws.

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Former Congress president credited the party’s workers for the victories and asked them to keep “fighting hate” without fear.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should note that “disdain for people’s pain is harmful,”claiming the “BJP’s exit is written on the wall.”

In West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress wrested two seats from the BJP, while the Shiv Sena touted its victories in the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha seat.

“First step outside Maharashtra, giant leap towards Delhi via Dadra Nagar Haveli. #ChaloDelhi”, said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.