The Bihar and UP bypoll results haven’t been as expected by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While the incumbent parties have managed to hold on to the seats in Bihar, UP has seen two reversals—one of them in Gorakhpur, a Lok Sabha seat previously occupied by Yogi Adityanath, the UP chief minister.

The most important message coming out of UP bypoll results is: alliances matter. The alliance between bitter rivals—Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)—helped upstage the BJP. The lesson is that the arithmetic of alliance can still trump the electoral chemistry of the BJP.

But what helped SP candidates is the fact that BSP agreed to support them. BSP supremo Mayawati has always believed that her party votes are more easily transferable than those of other parties.

Alliance formation, however, will be a lot trickier in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections than they were in these bypolls. Will SP’s vote base elect BSP candidates? It is questions like these that will haunt several regional satraps in coming months.

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