In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came back to power with a thumping majority, but it wasn’t a cakewalk in all the constituencies. The saffron party successfully increased its vote share to about 40 per cent, becoming the only party after Congress to secure such high vote share in the general elections. The last time when Congress secured close to 40 per cent vote share nationally was in 1989 (39.6 per cent).
An increase in its vote share indicates that the party has further improved its presence in the urban and rural constituencies. In some constituencies, however, the party faced a close battle. In one instance, a BJP candidate won by a margin of just 181 votes. Here are the constituencies that witnessed a tough battle between the BJP and other party candidates:
Machhlishahr, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh’s Machhlishashr is said to have witnessed the closest battle between BJP candidate Bholanath (BP Saroj) and BSP’s Tribhuvan Ram right from the beginning of counting of votes. While both of the candidates took turns to lead in the counting, the BJP candidate was declared winner from this constituency with a margin of just 181 votes.
Bholanath’s victory margin was the closest ever recorded in any of the Lok Sabha polls. While Saroj received 4,88,397 votes, Ram followed him closely with 4,88,216 votes.
Over the past three Lok Sabha elections, the constituency has voted for the BSP, SP and the BJP, indicating that it has not been a bastion of any particular political party.
In Khunti, a maoist-hit constituency in Jharkhand, former chief minister and BJP leader Arjun Munda won by a margin of just 1,445 votes. Munda was up against Congress candidate Charan Munda.
This is the first time that both the candidates were fielded from this constituency, which has been a BJP stronghold.
The low margin could be the result of the BJP’s move to replace eight-time MP and former deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Kariya Munda from Khunti with former chief minister Arjun Munda. Kariya Munda has represented Khunti since 2009. In the 2014 general elections, Munda won by a margin of over 92,000 votes.
Another close competition was recorded in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar, where the BJP candidate V Srinivas Prasad won by a margin of 1,817 votes. He was fielded against Congress’ R Dhruvanarayana, who has represented the constituency since 2009. In 2014, Dhruvanarayana had won by a margin of 1.4 lakh votes.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP wrested the state from Congress after winning 25 of the 28 parliamentary seats there. The Congress and its ally Janata Dal (Secular), managed to win just one seat each.
Burdwan-Durgapur, West Bengal
In Burdwan-Durgapur constituency, which has been a bastion of the CPI(M), BJP candidate SS Ahluwalia won by a margin of just 2,439 votes. Aluwalia defeated AITC’s Mamtaz Sanghamita, a sitting MP from the constituency. She had won by a margin of over 1 lakh votes in 2014.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has been able to make inroads in West Bengal. The saffron party has won 18 of the 42 seats in the state while it had won only two in the last general elections. This time, the party’s vote share in the state has crossed 40 per cent.
It is believed that the party has been able to do so with the support of the CPI(M), who supported the BJP in this election.
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
BJP’s performance in Uttar Pradesh has been exemplar as it secured 62 of the 80 seats. In 15 of these, the party won by a margin of less than 40,000 votes.
Meerut’s sitting and BJP leader Rajendra Agarwal defeated BSP’s Haji Mohammad Yaqoob and won by a margin of 4,729 votes. This indicates a sharp decline in Agarwal’s winning margin when compared to 2014. In the last general election, he had won by a margin of 2.3 lakh votes.