Lucknow: On the day when ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) geared up to elect its current state chief Swatantra Dev Singh unopposed, this time for full three-years term, two of its candidates were defeated in Panchayat Head by-elections in Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh.
Farida Begam, widow of Imtiyaz Ahmad who was gunned down last September at a park, has won the Chopan Nagara Panchayat Head post by defeating BJP's Satya Prakash.
Nisha Singh whose husband Bablu Singh was killed at his home in October 2018, won the Renukoot Panchayat president post, whereas her BJP opponent Sharda Kharwar couldn't even save his deposit in the polls held on January 14.
Incidentally, Swatantra Dev Singh hails from Mirzapur district from which Sonbhadra was carved out in 1989. BJP's defeat in this sensitive district is significant for another reason that Sonbhadra is the second largest district of Uttar Pradesh which borders Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
The tribal concentrated and naxal-affected Sonbhadra is among one of the most backward districts in the state. From land conflicts to illegal mining and deforestation to poor served citizens, the district had been in the news off late for all wrong reasons.
Over 11 tribals were killed in Umbha village of the district last July, while a news report that much-diluted milk was being served to children at a government primary school led to pan India outrage.