New Delhi, March 15: Days ahead of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s first year anniversary in Uttar Pradesh, the saffron party suffered humiliating defeats in bypolls results for which were announced on Wednesday (March 14). The BJP lost both Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats by huge margins to Samajwadi Party (SP).
Samajwadi Party candidate Pravin Kumar Nishad won Gorakhpur seat vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, defeating the BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla by 21,881 votes. In Phulpur, SP’s Nagendra Singh Patel defeated his nearest BJP opponent by 59,613 votes.
The defeat in the bypolls, which were being considered as a litmus test for the BJP and Yogi Adityanath in particular, has certainly jacked up issues for the ruling party as its down its Lok Sabha tally to 274 from 282 in 2014. The bypolls results has given the Opposition a huge boost at a time when several parties are looking to stitch up an alliance to challenge the Narendra Modi, Amit Shah duo in 2019.
Stunned by the results, UP CM Yogi Adityanath admitted that his party was ‘overconfident’ of a positive outcome.
“When the parliamentary byelections were declared, all opposition parties SP, BSP, Congress were fighting separately. Towards the end… in the midst of campaigning for the byelections, the SP and BSP entered into an unnatural deal in view of the Rajya Sabha biennial elections and there was some shortcoming on our part in understanding its impact and over-confidence is a factor in this,” a visibly upset Adityanath told reporters in Lucknow.
Describing the results as ‘unexpected’, Adityanath called for a “serious introspection” by his party.
Buoyed by the win, Samajwadi Party’s boss Akhilesh Yadav thanked Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supreme Mayawati for helping his party in the bypolls. BSP had decided not to field candidates in the bypolls which were held as Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their seats after being elected to UP Assembly last year.
Akhilesh said the results were a rejection of the policies of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh and the divisive agenda followed by them.
Akhilesh later met Mayawati at her house in Lucknow in the evening to congratulate her over the victory.
Tejashwi Proves His Worth in Lalu’s Absence
In Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) retained Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad Assembly seats while the BJP managed to hold on to Bhabhua Assembly constituency. For the RJD, the results mean a lot as party chief and star campaigner Lalu Prasad is in jail serving sentence in multiple càses linked to the fodder scam of the 1990s. (ALSO READ – Bihar Bypolls: RJD Wins Araria, Jehanabad; Tejashwi Calls Nitish ‘Bhishma Pitamah’ of Moral Corruption)
Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu’s younger son who has been leading the party in his father’s absence, described the results as a victory of ideology of Lalu. “Some people said ‘ abb Laluji khatam ho gaye’…people have answered them. This is not an ordinary win. The results are a victory of Laluji’s ideology,” Tejashwi, who was Nitish Kumar’s deputy in Grand Alliance or Mahagathbandhan government, told reporters.
Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Sarfaraz Alam defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Pradeep Kumar Singh by over 60,000 votes in Araria. In Jehanabad, Suday Yadav of RJD defeated Janata Dal-United candidate Abhiram Sharma by 35,036 votes.
BJP’s Rinki Pandey worsted Sambhu Patel of the Congress, a RJD ally, by 15,000 votes in Bhabua. All three seats went to the polls on Sunday.