LUCKNOW: The BJP's bypoll performance in UP has once again exposed the weak and fragmented opposition incapable of stopping the saffron surge.
While the parties failed to stop the BJP juggernaut, their confidence in striking a turnaround in the 2022 Assembly election in UP has also shaken.
The opposition parties in UP had been trying all possible combos for the alliance to stop the saffron juggernaut in the state but hardly to any avail. In 2017, Congress and Samajwadi Party shook hands and fought the Assembly elections together riding on the slogan of “UP ke ladke’ (UP’s boys). It saw the decimation of both the parties. While SP slipped from 224 to 47, Congress failed to reach the double-digit and wound it up with its seven MLAs in UP assembly.
In 2019, general election, something ‘unimaginable’ happened when arch-rivals SP and BPS came together to stitch a grand alliance which was also joined by the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Chadhury Ajit Singh. But they also failed to cut much ice among the UP voters and BJP put up an impressive show by bagging 64 of 80 Lok Sabha seats.
While SP had to be content with its earlier tally of five, BSP had an edge over its ally and secured 10 berths in Lok Sabha. However, RLD failed to open the account and Congress, which was refused by the regional satraps to be a part of the grand alliance, could manage to retain the Rae Bareli seat of Sonia Gandhi. The biggest upset of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls for the grand old party was that it ended up losing the Gandhi bastion of Amethi to the BJP.
This time, with the three key players separately in the by-poll fray, the BJP's job was made all the easier. It could be gauged from the fact that barring Bulandshahr, the combined votes polled by the three main opposition parties on the rest of the five seats won by the BJP was much more than the winning candidate.
The other five seats bagged by the BJP included Bangarmau, Ghatampur, Deoria, Naugaon Sadat, and Tundla.
The only hope for the Opposition that it might get poll dividends from the economic crisis and hardships due to Covid outbreak, lockdown, and huge migrant influx coupled with anti-incumbency sentiments against the Yogi Adityanath government dashed with BJP retaining all its six seats.
In a multi-cornered fight, with no pacts among Opposition parties, BJP bagged 36.73% votes, followed by SP at 23.61%, BSP at 18.97%, and Congress just 7.53% of the total votes polled. BJP did not lose any of its six seats while Samajwadi Party also succeeded in holding its traditional fort in Jaunpur.
The results came as a setback to SP as it was hoping to do 2017 bypoll redux by mopping up all anti-BJP votes after BSP’s flip flop statements on supporting BJP, but it did not happen. Instead, SP lost some ground as Congress pushed it to third position in Bangarmau and Ghatampur.
BSP’s performance also lacks any luster but shows the party still retains its traditional vote bank and would try to take its social engineering formula
The bypoll results have finally given Congress something to cheer about as it turned out to be the runner-up in two of the six contested seats. Congress seems to have won the support of Muslims by forcefully raising their issues like arrests of civil society activists.