The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered defeats in Gorakhpur — a seat vacated by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath — and Phulpur, a constituency won by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya in 2014, to the alliance of Akhilesh Yadav led-Samajwadi Party and Mayawati-helmed Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Following the Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha bypoll results announced on Wednesday, the BJP tried to downplay its defeat while Opposition parties were quick to attack the saffron party.
Following the unexpected loss, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Wednesday that the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-election results were a "lesson". He cited over-confidence and the inability to understand the pact between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as prime reasons for the BJP's defeat.
The fact that the BJP lost both the seats — Gorakhpur was vacated by Adityanath and Phulpur by his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya — was a reason for review, the chief minister added.
"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 chief minister, who has represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha five times, said local issues led to the party's poor performance in by-elections, not the policies of the Centre.
'Results have no bearing on Centre's or state's stability'
The BJP at the national level also tried to play down its defeat saying that people tend to vote on local factors in these elections as their results have no bearing on the stability of either the central or state governments. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao claimed that voters seem to want to bring some amount of "political equilibrium" by giving encouragement to defeated parties as the saffron party has been winning Assembly elections.
"In General Elections, people vote to elect a government and the BJP has always been the favourite as people want guarantee of good governance which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought to politics. Bypolls have no impact on stability of a government whether at the Centre or state," he said. However, senior BJP leaders such as Amit Shah kept mum about the party's defeat.
Meanwhile BJP's state chief in Karnataka, BS Yeddyurappa hit out at the Congress for being "decimated" in the bypolls and said the BJP will ensure a similar fate for the Siddaramaiah-led government in the upcoming Assembly election. He also said in a tweet that in "the arena of opportunistic politics, sworn enemies became allies", referring to the Samajwadi Party-BSP alliance.
The party's defeat, in Phulpur and its bastion Gorakhpur, is likely to send BJP's top brass to the drawing board, as the country's most populous state are central to its strategy for winning the general elections in 2019.
Akhilesh Yadav thanks Mayawati for support
Buoyed by victory in the bypolls, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said on Wednesday it was a mandate against both the central and state governments and the results will give a new direction to the national politics.
He credited BSP chief Mayawati and allies Nishad Party and Peace Party as well as the Left parties for the victory. The Samajwadi Party chief was profuse in expressing his gratitude towards Mayawati, who was once his party's bitterest rival in the state.
"Foremost, I want to thank BSP leader Mayawati for her and her party's support in this important fight," he said. Yadav even drove to the BSP leader's residence and expressed his gratitude to her. While it not known what transpired at the meeting, party insiders believed the two leaders discussed a grand alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Mayawati is yet to
After his party wrested both the seats from the formidable BJP, Yadav also said the elections were a "mandate on both the governments at the Centre and the state...people have come together to bring BJP's burey din (bad days)".
A government that troubles people is pulled down and this government has created problems and led to fear in the people, Yadav added.
Terming the bypolls a victory of social justice, Yadav said the BJP talked about loan waiver for farmers, jobs for the unemployed but GST and demonetisation had created an adverse atmosphere and the Constitution was flouted in a big way.
"No chief minister or party has flouted the Constitution like this...We (Samajwadi Party and BSP) were termed as snake and mole and I was also termed as Aurangzeb...The BJP government has betrayed the people of the country and state in the name of development and nationalism and people have given a befitting reply," Yadav said.
'Clear that voters have anger towards BJP': Congress
Losing no time to take a dig at the saffron party, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said it was clear that people were angry with the BJP and would vote for any non-BJP candidate with the potential to win.
"Congratulations to the winners of today's by-elections. It is clear from the results that voters have a lot of anger towards the BJP and will vote for any non-BJP candidate who has more chances of winning.
"The Congress is keen on rebuilding the party in Uttar Pradesh, but that will not happen overnight," he tweeted in Hindi.
Following suit, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday chided his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath on BJP's performance, by advising him to spend less time "lecturing" Karnataka on development.
Congratulating Samajwadi Party and BSP for the "historic victory", he said unity among the non-BJP parties played a key role in the win.
"BJP has suffered a humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha seats held by the CM and Dy CM of UP. Congratulations to SP & BSP for this historic victory. Unity among the non-BJP parties has played a key role," he said in a tweet.
"Perhaps Yogi Adityanath should spend less time lecturing Karnataka on development," he said.
BJP has suffered humiliating loss in the Lok Sabha seats held by the CM & DyCM of UP. Congratulations to SP & BSP for this historic victory. Unity among the non-BJP parties has played a key role.
Perhaps Yogi Adityanath should spend less time lecturing Karnataka on development.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) March 14, 2018
Adityanath has already made two visits to poll bound Karnataka for campaigning, where elections are due in April/May. During the visits, both Siddaramaiah and Adityanath had indulged in a twitter and verbal duel, mocking each other on the issue of development and governance.
Other Karnataka ministers also joined in and chastised Adityanath for his party's loss. State agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda, in a tweet, said Aditynath's "negative politics" backfired on his own constituency.
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the winners while tweeting that the "beginning of the end has started".
BJP is not invincible, say CPI, CPM
Following the results announcement, CPM lawmaker Mohammed Salim told PTI, "The Samajwadi Party and BSP coming together has helped the voters express their anger against the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and at the centre. The result is an indicator and it will have its impact in 2019."
He further said, "Both the SP and the BSP had age-old differences between them, but they were kept aside for the sake of democracy and to defeat the BJP and its anti-people policies."
CPI leader D Raja said the results indicated that the BJP is not invincible. Speaking to PTI, he said, "These results would have an impact on the thinking of all the secular, democratic parties so that they evolve a proper electoral tactic, keeping in view the objective of defeating the BJP."
Telagana Rashtra Samithi MP B Vinod Kumar said BJP's loss indicated a growing anti-BJP and anti-Congress sentiment among the masses, reported The Indian Express. He also said that it showed a decline in national parties and emergence of regional parties.
BJP's loss in three Lok Sabha bypolls shows the growing anti-BJP and anti-Congress sentiment among the common man, Telangana Rashtra Samithi MP B Vinod Kumar said.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2018 13:56:56 IST