SP-BSP combine, RJD stun BJP in UP, Bihar Lok Sabha bypolls: 10 big takeaways
The opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) today stunned a confident BJP in crucial Lok Sabha byelections held in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and Phulpur, and Bihar's Araria on Sunday.
In BJP's bastion Gorakhpur, which Yogi Adityanath had represented in Lok Sabha for five straight terms and vacated after becoming the state Chief Minister, Samajwadi Party's Praveen Kumar Nishad defeated the BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla by over 22,000 votes.
Similarly, in Phulpur, which Uttar Pradesh's Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had vacated, Samajwadi Party's Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel defeated the BJP's Kaushalendra Singh Patel by nearly 60,000 votes.
In Bihar's Araria Lok Sabha seat, the RJD's Sarfaraz Alam beat the BJP's Pradip Kumar Singh by over 60,000 votes. In two other Assembly bypolls in Bihar, the RJD (Jehanabad) and the BJP (Bhabua) each won one.
The BJP's defeat in three Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, two of India's most crucial states politically, barely a year before the 2019 general election has sent shockwaves through the party and bolstered the opposition's strategy.
In 2014, the BJP had stunningly won 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, while one of its allies secured two. The Samajwadi Party won from five seats. The Congress won two - former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and current president Rahul's seats - while Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) drew a blank.
10 MAJOR TAKEAWAYS FROM THE BYPOLL RESULTS TODAY
1. The image of the BJP's incredible Modi-Shah "election machine", considered unassailable after the party's recent victories in the northeast, will surely get a beating with today's humiliating defeats, especially in Gorakhpur.
2. To retain Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath, who had represented the constituency in Lok Sabha for five straight terms, had addressed a whopping 21 rallies in 15 days. Addressing reporters after accepting the defeat today, Adityanath said, "We accept the verdict of the people. This result is unexpected. We will review the shortcomings. I congratulate the winning candidates."
3. The Samajwadi Party acknowledged the significant role played by the BSP in the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats but has adopted a cautious approach on whether there will be an alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
4. "Wait and watch," Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said when asked if his party and the BSP would come together in the next Lok Sabha polls. "BSP workers have backed us, they worked hard. They have contributed well. We express our thanks to the leaders and workers of BSP," Yadav said.
5. The Congress too is also flexing its muscles. "It is clear from the #ByPollResults that voters are angry with BJP & they will vote for the non-BJP candidate who has the strongest chance of winning. As far as Congress is concerned, we are committed to re-building the Party in UP, and it does not happen overnight," Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
6. However, the Congress candidates from both Phulpur - once represented by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru - and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats lost their deposits.
7. In a clear realignment of opposition politics towards a possible anti-BJP alliance ahead of 2019 elections, a number of leaders today congratulated SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati for coming together.
8. "Congratulations to @laluprasadrjd Ji for winning #Araria and #Jehanabad This is a great victory," Trinamool Congress and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted. Lalu's reply: "Thank you Didi. Together we are fighting, we shall fight and we will win."
9. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav has called for a Grand Alliance at the national level to defeat the BJP and said there was a need for opposition leaders to shed their ego. "A Grand Alliance is the demand of time, it is the demand of the people. Keep your ego away," Yadav said, adding that the Samajwadi Party and the BSP should fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls together and urged the Congress to join them.
10. Since the byelections today were considered a referendum on the Narendra Modi government's four-year rule so far, the verdict today is bound to reverberate through the year with at least five more states, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, going for Assembly elections this year.