UP Lok Sabha bypolls: Setback for BJP as SP scores upset win in Gorakhpur, sails through in Phulpur

NEW DELHI: The “snake and the mongoose” proved to be giant killers in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur on March 14, taking a commanding lead over the BJP candidate in the Lok Sabha bypoll.
“Snake and mongoose” are what UP’s BJP chief minister Adityanath called the BSP and the SP when they decided to band together – with the former supporting the latter’s candidates – in both the Gorakhpur and the Phulpur bypolls.
The SP candidate won in Phulpur, too, but that would have come as less of a shock; the constituency has traditionally never been the BJP’s, even though the incumbent was a BJP man.
Gorakhpur is, of course, the bastion of the BJP CM Adityanath. The seat has been with him or his mentor Avaidyanath for the last eight terms. A loss here has to have badly dented the confidence of the BJP, which is riding high after recent Assembly victories in three northeastern states, especially in Tripura.
The success of the SP-BSP experiment could pave the way for the two parties to tie up in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to counter the BJP. And if the Congress decides to pledge its troth with them – for yet another ‘grand alliance’ – the BJP will need to shed its complacency and pull up its socks.
We undermined the SP-BSP alliance, UP CM Yogi Adityanath said after the results were declared. “We accept the verdict of the people of Phulpur and Gorakhpur. I congratulate the winners of the bypolls,” the chief minister added.
“We didn’t expect that BSP’s vote will be transferred to SP in such a manner. We will analyse after seeing the final results & prepare for a situation in future when BSP, SP and Congress can come together and also make our strategy for winning 2019 elections,” said the BJP’s KP Maurya, deputy CM of UP.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP’s “arrogance” and “disregard” cost it the two big Lok Sabha seats. “If this is the anger of people in the areas of the CM and the deputy CM, you can imagine the anger of the people in the rest of the country,” said Akhilesh.
The bypolls had to be held after UP CM Adityanath and deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their Lok Sabha seats of Gorakhpur and Phulpur, respectively, upon being elected to the state Legislative Council last year after Assembly elections.
Voting for the two seats took place on Sunday. While 47 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in Gorakhpur, the turnout in Phulpur was lower, at 38 per cent.
The saffron party fielded Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Phulpur and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel, respectively. The Congress candidates — Sureetha Kareem for Gorakhpur and Manish Mishra for the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat — ended up losing their deposits.

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