LUCKNOW: In politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, the bypolls to 11 assembly seats, which were being seen as a litmus test for the Yogi Adityanath government, have seen the Samajwadi Party emerge as the only gainer after it wrested the Zaidpur constituency in Barabanki from the saffron brigade and Jalalpur from the BSP on Thursday.
Of the 11 seats where bypolls were held, the BJP had sitting MLAs in nine and the SP and BSP in one seat each. The BJP managed to retain its forts in eight of the nine constituencies, while the SP retained the seat it held besides winning two more.
In a major departure from its policy of keeping away from bypolls, the BSP tested the electoral waters by fielding candidates in all 11 seats. But it failed to salvage its pride even in Jalapur (Ambedkarnagar) where the sitting MLA Ritesh Pandey was elected to the Lok Sabha in May.
The bypolls were also being seen as a race for the second slot among the opposition players and the Samajwadi Party won it by emerging as the most potent rival for the saffron brigade. It increased its tally by one and retained its stronghold in Rampur where Tanzeen Fatima, wife of SP MP Azam Khan, won the election defeating the BJP’s Bharat Bhushan Gupta by a margin of 7589 votes. The SP remained in the No.2 position in five of the eight seats won by the BJP.
The eight seats won by the BJP and its allies included Lucknow Cant, Govindnagar (Kanpur), Pratapgarh, Balha (Bahriach), Gangoh (Saharanpur), Manikpur (Chitrakoot), Iglas (Aligarh) and Ghosi in Mau district.
The BJP's victory in Gangoh drew a strong reaction from its nearest rival Congress’s Noman Masood and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. After the announcement of the result, Priyanka accused the state government of subverting the people's verdict by using state machinery. Noman Masood had been leading over BJP’s Keerat Singh for many rounds of counting but finally lost by a margin of 5362 votes.
"The Uttar Pradesh Congress will fight this out strongly. The Election Commission should hold a thorough impartial inquiry into the incident," Priyanka said. The grand old party fared better than the BSP as it held the number two position in Gangoh and Govindnagar while the BSP could get the number two position
only in Iglas in Aligarh which was a reserved seat. Of the three reserved seats – Iglas, Balha and Zaidpur— the BJP bagged two while one (Zaidpur) went to the SP’s kitty.
The bypoll results are likely to put the BJP in introspection mode after 30 months of governance in the state as the party was expecting a clean sweep but ended up losing a seat from its kitty. The BJP's cause was aided by the reluctance of senior leaders of all the three major opposition parties who did not come out to campaign in favour of their candidates. On the contrary, the BJP’s campaign was led by none other than CM Yogi himself along with a battery of ministers.
Political pundits believe it is time for the BJP to put its act together and improve its governance in the next two-and-a-half years. “Had it not been a fractured opposition, the BJP would have had a very difficult time in retaining its forts,” said JP Shukla, a prominent political commentator.