In a huge setback, BJP lost its two heavyweight Lok Sabha constituencies – Gorakhpur and Phulpur — in Uttar Pradesh, while failed to win back Araria in Bihar. SP, which had got the backing of its traditional rival BSP, won both the seats in Uttar Pradesh, RJD retained the Araria seat in Bihar.
The elections to the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats, which were represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya respectively, were keenly awaited as BJP had called it a litmus test for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Reacting to the results, Adityanath said, “local issues led to BJP’s poor performance in by-elections, and not the policies of Centre”.
On the other hand, elated Akhilesh Yadav thanked BSP supremo Mayawati for her support and other regional groups. “It is a message… it a victory of social justice. This result shows anger brewing against the government,” he said.
While Praveen Nishad of SP won Gorakhpur defeating BJP candidate Upendra Dutt Shukla by 21,881 votes, SP’s Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel won from Phulpur defeating BJP’s Kaushlendra Singh by 59,460 seats.
For the BJP, Gorakhpur is a particularly a significant blow for it is the bastion of the chief minister, who represented the seat in the Lok Sabha five times. Prior to Yogi Adityanath, the seat was thrice represented in Parliament by his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath.
Phulpur, which was won by Maurya by a huge margin in 2014 Lok Sabha polls showed Samajwadi Party leading since early trends. Yogi Adityanath had termed the bye-elections a rehearsal for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Meanwhile, in Bihar, stamping its significance after the break of Mahagathbandhan last year, Lalu’s RJD retained Araria seat. Sarfaraz Alam, son of the former MP Mohd Taslimuddin, who had won the seat in 2014, defeated BJP’s Pradeep Kumar Singh by 61,988 votes.
The bypolls were necessitated after the demise of Mohd. Taslimuddin.
Beside Lok Sabha seats, bypolls were held for the assembly seats of Jehanabad and Bhabua. The RJD today retained the Jehanabad assembly seat, while the BJP secured Bhabhua.
In the Jehanabad assembly seat, RJD’s Suday Yadav defeated his Janata Dal (United) rival Abhiram Sharma by more than 30,000 votes, while in Bhabhua, BJP’s Rinki Rani Pandey defeated her Congress rival Shambhu Singh Patel by about 14,000 votes.
Defeat of JD(U) nominee Abhiram Sharma at Jehanabad is a bad news for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who had in July last year dumped the Grand Alliance and joined hands with the BJP to form a coalition government.
From the opposition camp, while Lalu Prasad’s party contested Araria and Jehanabad seats it gave Bhabhua to ally Congress in seat-sharing.
(With inputs from PTI)