Nitish Kumar suffers major setback in Bihar bypolls (Fourth Lead)

September 18th, 2009 - 12:34 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patna, Sep 17 (IANS) In a major setback to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the opposition alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Thursday bagged nine seats in bye-elections for 18 assembly seats in the state. The ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine won just five.
The JD-U won three seats (Triveniganj, Bagha and Dhoraiya), and its ally BJP got two seats of Begusarai and Chainpur.

Contesting independently of its former allies RJD and LJP, the Congress managed victories in Chenari and Simribakhtiarpur. The party had turned down an alliance offer by the RJD.

However, the party put up a brave face with Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi saying: “By-poll results are not an indicator of the people’s mood.” He told reporters in Delhi that local issues play a major role in such polls.

Former railway minister Lalu Prasad’s RJD won Bochaha, Kalyanpur, Phulwarisharief, Aurai, Ramgarh and Munger seats while former union minister’s Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP won Warisnagar, Araria and Bodh Gaya seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party emerged victorious in the Nautan constituency.

Independent candidate Shanti Sharma won the Ghosi seat. She is wife of JD-U MP from Jehanabad Jagdish Sharma, who backed her against the official party candidate.

RJD’s Uday Manjhi surprised all by defeating JD-U’s Shyam Rajak on Phulwarisharief in Patna. Rajak had deserted RJD for JD-U just two months ago. Similarly, former minister Ramai Ram was defeated in Bochaha seat. Ram had joined the JD-U after quitting the Congress.

Nitish Kumar had turned this seat as a prestige issue by campaigning here like never before.

The bye-elections for 18 seats were held in two phases in the state. In the first phase on Sep 10 polls were conducted in seven constituencies, while the rest went to polls Sep 15. The counting of votes started Thursday.

The elections are being seen as a mini-referendum for the Nitish Kumar government ahead of state assembly polls next year.

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