SP consolidates leads in Gorakhpur, Phulpur LS seats

When Narendra Modi won office in 2014 with the most resounding victory in three decades the BJP and its allies ruled only states but they are now in power in 21 of them

As the BJP lost two Lok Sabh bypolls in UP and one in Bihar, the Congress on Wednesday rubbed in the electoral defeats, saying that the ruling party had "lost the simple majority in the Lok Sabha on its own".

Congress candidate from Phulpur and Gorakhpur constituencies have lost their deposits.

From Phulpur the BJP had pitted Kaushalendra Singh Patel and Upendra Dutt Shukla from Gorakhpur against the SP's Pravin Nishad and Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel respectively. The bypolls were necessitated after Adityanath vacated the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya the Phulpur seat following their election to the UP legislative council.

Adityanath represented Gorakhpur five times in the Lok Sabha, and it went vacant in 2017 when he was elected to UP Assembly to take over as the Chief Minister of the state.

And the swing against the BJP was even more significant - especially as this swing against the BJP is in its strongest seats - including the Chief Minister's own seat - held for almost 30 years by the BJP.

Amid beating of drums and distribution of candies, the victorious Nagendra Patel not only thanked the people of Phulpur for his victory but said he also had the blessings of "behenji" Mayawati along with his own leader Akhilesh Yadav.

But what helped SP candidates is the fact that BSP agreed to support them.

Supporters of Samajwadi Party (SP) in Gorakhpur on Wednesday.

The SP's victory reminded numerous triumph of the now defunct JD (U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance in Bihar which had trounced the BJP-led NDA in 2015.

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In 2014, BJP had won both the seats with over 3 lakh vote margin.

In Gorakhpur, Samajwadi Party candidate Praveen Kumar Nishad is leading by more than 19,000 votes.

Add to this the strength of the Congress if a grand alliance materialises, an enough reason for the BJP to feel rattled.

Samajwadi Party leaders admitted that the Bahujan Samaj Party's decision to back the main opposition party so as not to split the opposition vote played a critical role in the outcome.

Since the Modi tsunami in 2014, the BJP hasn't witnessed such a poll debacle.

People have taught a lesson to the BJP, said former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav while addressing the media in Lucknow. But a few byelections mean more than a mere shifting of seats from one party to another. So, who voted against the BJP in his home turf?

"Now that they are a winning combination, the BJP will chalk out a strategy to thwart the march of the people who are out to block the development ushered in by the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state". Since he became the UP CM - after some combative posturings with the BJP and intense lobbying with the RSS when the Modi-Amit Shah combine had virtually chose to name union minister Manoj Sinha for the CM's post - he had emerged as the BJP's new poster boy and poll mascot who was increasingly being used to address election rallies across the country. "The results are an indication to what is in store for BJP in 2019", he said.

The results, again, cement the political understanding that a joint opposition may be in a much better position to take on the might of the BJP in the 2019 general elections.

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