Lucknow/Patna: In a massive blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Samajwadi Party on Wednesday wrested Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats from the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.
The defeat was even more shocking as the seats belonged to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya. They had vacated them after the state Assembly elections in 2017.
Gorakhpur can be said to be a bigger setback as the seat has been held by Yogi since 1991 for a record five times.
The BJP's applecart was dislodged primarily by the arithmetic of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) backing its bitter rival the SP. SP's Nagendra Singh Patel defeated BJP's Kashlendra Singh Patel in Phulpur and in Gorakhpur Pravin Nishad of the SP crushed BJP candidate Upendra Dutt Shukla.
Stunned by the defeat, Yogi said that the party's performance in two Lok Sabha bypolls was a lesson for them. "When the candidates were declared, the SP, BSP and Congress were not together. They had not joined hands then. But suddenly in the middle of the election, the SP and the BSP forged an electoral understanding," he told the media from his residence.
"The over-confidence and inability to understand the electoral understanding between the SP and the BSP led to the defeat," Yogi accepted. He also said that local issues led to BJP's poor performance in bypolls, not policies of Centre.
On his part, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav attributed his party's win to the support from Dalits, farmers, labourers, women and unemployed. "It is the victory of social justice," he said.
In 2014, the BJP had stunningly won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats while one of its allies had secured two seats. The SP had won five seats and the Congress had won two seats. The BSP had drawn a blank.
Meanwhile, in Bihar, both the RJD and BJP retained their seats.
The RJD held on to the Jehanabad Assembly seat and the BJP won the Bhabua constituency. In Araria Lok Sabha bypolls, the RJD again retained its seat.
In Jehanabad, RJD's Suday Yadav defeated his Janata Dal (United) rival Abhiram Sharma, while in Bhabua, BJP's Rinki Rani Pandey defeated her Congress rival Shambhu Singh Patel. And in Araria, RJD's Sarfaraz Alam defeated his nearest BJP adversary Pradip Kumar Singh.
Suday is the son of former state minister Mundrika Singh Yadav, whose death necessitated the bypoll. Araria was represented by RJD Mohammad Taslimuddin whose death on September 17, 2017, necessitated the bypoll.
The RJD candidate at Araria Sarfaraz Alam, who crossed over from JD(U) to Lalu Prasad's party to enter into fray in the bypoll, is son of Taslimuddin. Lalu Prasad Yadav's party contested Araria and Jehanabad seats and it gave Bhabua to ally Congress in a seat-sharing arrangement.
However, defeat of JD(U) nominee Abhiram Sharma at Jehanabad could be bad news for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had in July 2017 dumped the Grand Alliance and joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government.
(With Agency inputs)