These bye-polls resultshave brought no cheer to the BJP. But Nitish Kumar’s fate is even worse

As the results of the bye-elections to the 13 Lok Sabha and Assembly seats trickled in on Thursday, the focus was understandably on the Kairana seat in Uttar Pradesh, where a united Opposition registered a comprehensive victory over the Bharatiya Janata Party. However, while the BJP has been an obvious loser in these polls – winning only three of the 13 seats that went to the polls on May 28 – the results have also come as a big setback to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.His party, the Janata Dal (United), lost the Jokihat Assembly seat to the Rashtriya Janata Dal in what was seen as a prestige battle for Kumar. This is the third electoral defeat for the party since it walked out of its alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress last year to align with the BJP. In March, Kumar’s party lost the Araria Lok Sabha constituency and the Jehanabad Assembly seat to the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
The results must be particularly galling for Kumar as the defeat has come at the hands of Tejaswi Yadav – the 29-year-old son of Lalu Yadav – who took charge of the Rashtriya Janata Party earlier this year after his father was jailed following his conviction in four fodder scam cases. While the results have undoubtedly enhanced Tejaswi Yadav’s image, they also indicate that Lalu Yadav cannot be written off just yet; he remains a major factor in Bihar politics, and his influence has not waned despite the fact that he is in prison. On the contrary, Lalu Yadav is increasingly being seen as a victim of political vendetta, which has helped consolidate his support base among the Yadavs and Bihar’s minorities.However, attempting to downplay his party’s defeat in Jokihat, Janata Dal (United) spokesperson KC Tyagi said that the victory wasn’t the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s, and could be attributed to the “Taslimuddin factor”. This is a reference to the late Rashtriya Janata Dal veteran who represented the Araria Lok Sabha seat that Jokihat is part of.