In a huge setback to chief minister Nitish Kumar, the ruling NDA put up a disastrous performance in the by-polls to five assembly seats in Bihar in what was being described as a semi-final to the assembly elections scheduled for next year. The NDA, however, was able to retain the Samastipur Lok Sabha seat with a comfortable margin.

Of the five assembly seats which went to polls, four of them, such as Simri-Bakhtiyarpur, Belhar, Daraundha, and Nathnagar were held by the JD-U whereas the Kishanganj seat was represented by the Congress. However, the NDA managed to retain only one seat, indicating the resentment among the voters. This indeed is a major setback for the ruling alliance which made a clean sweep in the recent Lok Sabha elections by winning 39 seats of the total 40.

The major setback came for the JD-U in Daraundha which had been its traditional seat for the past 15 years and was being represented by one family. This seat was being represented by Kavita Singh, wife of a gangster Ajay Singh, for the past two terms but as she was elected to Lok Sabha, the JD-U gave the ticket to her husband this time. In protest, a BJP leader Vyas Singh alias Karnjeet Singh jumped into the poll fray as an independent candidate. Much to JD-U’s shock, the independent candidate emerged victorious in the elections, defeating the JD-U candidate as a majority of BJP votes got transferred to the rebel BJP candidate, reports said.

In Belhar, another stronghold of the JD-U, the party suffered serious setback, losing the seat to the RJD candidate Ramdeo Yadav by over 22,000 votes. Here too, the JD-U candidate failed to get the cadre votes of the BJP which sealed the fate of the JD-U nominee, reports said. Likewise, the RJD wrested the Simri-Bakhtiyarpur seat from the JD-U but missed the chance in Nathnagar seat by a small margin of 4, 000 votes. Till the last round of counting, both the candidates were locked in a close fight but ultimately JD-U nominee had the last laugh.

The most surprising result came from Muslim-dominated Kishanganj seat where the AIMIM, headed by firebrand Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, finally made its entry to Bihar by defeating BJP candidate Switi Singh by over 10,000 votes. However, credit for the AIMIM victory goes directly to the internal conflicts than the performance by the AIMIM. As such, Congress candidate Dr Javed Azad had emerged victorious from Kishanganj seat in 2015, but after he was elected to the Lok Sabha, this seat fell vacant. During the by-elections, he rejected the claims of other party candidates and managed to get a ticket for his mother Saida Bano which annoyed the party workers and they didn’t cooperate. She finished third in the elections, polling a little over 25,000 votes.

The only saving grace for the NDA was its victory in Samastipur Lok Sabha seat where the LJP candidate Prince Raj defeated the Congress candidate Dr Ashok Kumar by over one lakh votes. This seat had fallen vacant after the sitting candidate Ram Chandra Paswan died of a heart attack recently. Subsequently, the party fielded his son and much to their satisfaction, he won the seat.