Express News Service
LUCKNOW: The Samajwadi Party, backed by the BSP, delivered a body blow to ruling BJP by winning the bypoll to both Gorakhpur, and Phulpur parliamentary constituencies here on Wednesday.
The SP-BSP’s victory ahs certainly refreshed the days of 1993 when the two regional forces had joined hands to throw a spanner in saffron surge in the wake of Ram temple movement.
The bypoll was necessitated when CM Yogi Adityanth relinquished his stronghold Gorakhpur and Deputy Cm Keshav Maurya vacated Phulpur owing to their respective election to UP council after assuming charge in the state.
SP candidate in Gorakhpur, Pravin Nishad defeated his nearest rival and BJP candidate Upendra Shukla by a margin of around 22,000 votes, cornering around 49% of the total votes polled. Shukla received
around 46% votes.
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In 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Gorakhpur, BJP had bagged 51.8 % vote share while SP and BSP's combined share was 38.6 per cent. The emerging trends show a significant shift in the vote percentage away from the BJP.
Similarly, in SP’s Phulpur candidate Nagendra Singh Patel defeated BJP's Kaushalendra Patel by a more respectable margin of almost 60,000 votes, receiving around 47% of the total votes polled.
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However, the BJP candidate got around 38 % votes. SP’s present performance has been significantly higher as compared to 2014, when the vote share of the SP and BSP taken together was around 37% on both seats while BJP which had a vote share of around 52%.
The Congress which had gone it alone after being spurned by the SP got further decimated with its candidates losing their deposits at both places.
Congress's Gorakhpur candidate, Sureetha Kareem, got barely 2% votes, which was even lesser than in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. In Phulpur also, Manish Mishra of Congress reaed at fourth position even
behind mafia don-turned politician Atiq Ahmad, who contested as an independent received 6.5% of the total votes polled at theirs spot.
Shocked CM Yogi Adityanath accepted the defeat with grace by greeting the winners and dubbed the drubbing as a lesson.
"The defeat is a lesson for BJP. We would identify the reason and devise a strategy to counter SP-BSP's in upcoming general elections,” he said while giving his reaction to the surprise upset.
However, the biggest take away of the bypoll result is that it has thrown up the blueprint for the roadmap of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, the outcome has also laid out a consolidated ground
SP-BSP truck which may further pave the way for a multi-party anti-BJP Grand Alliance in next general elections.
Apart from coming as a big jolt to BJP’s ‘Mission 80’ in UP, the loss in Gorakhpur gains much importance since the seat has been associated with the prestige of CM Yogi who represented it Lok Sabha five times since 1998.
This was for the first time that the BJP had fielded a candidate out of Gorakshanth Muthh and
this factor has certainly impacted the outcome.
Similarly, in Phulpur, BJP para-dropped Kaushalendra Singh Patel, the former mayor of Varanasi, who apparently could not connect with the people in the otherwise OBC dominated constituency.
Yogi, who is also a head priest of Gorakhnath temple, not surprisingly, launched a campaign blitzkrieg single-handedly, addressing as many as many as 21 rallies in Gorakhpur and Phulpur within a span of 15 days.
Turning himself into the lone star campaigner, Yogi, was hardly assisted by any senior BJP
leader. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, on the other hand, addressed just one rally each in Gorakhpur and Phulpur. BSP chief Mayawati, despite her support to SP, stayed away from campaigning leaving the entire show to her party cadres.
While, BJP's defeat on the two seats marks the polarisation of OBC, Dalit and Muslim voters in favour of BSP backed SP candidates, it also drew home the fact that despite standing decimated, BSP chief
Mayawati has the capability to mobilise her vote bank and getting it transferred.
Experts said that the results could change the entire poltical discourse of the state and shift it from development to the politics of Mandal (caste-based politics) vs Kamandal (religious narrative).
Even BJP’s decisive push to Hindutva agenda after assuming power might have had an effect on the results. In 2017 UP assembly elections the party had pushed Hindutva agenda but with striking
consolidation among various communities, including Dalits and MBCs.
Moreover foul mouthed campaigns loaded with arrogance and jibes like `saanp aur chhachundar' (snake and mole) and `chor-chor mausere bhai', while analogy of the SP clan with that of Ravan also impacted the BJP prospects.
Political experts said that BJP attacks on Mayawati and Akhilesh also generated an anger amongst OBCs, Muslims and Dalits, and worked in favour of the BSP backed SP candidates.