UP, Bihar Bypolls: BJP Lost in All Three Lok Sabha Seats

UP CM Yogi Adityanath

UP CM Yogi Adityanath

After Bhartiya Janata Party's defeat in by-elections for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur parliament seats, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday acknowledged party's defeat by saying that BJP has "paid for its overconfidence".

In the Phulpur constituency, which was once represented by India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, SP candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel defeated BJP candidate Kaushalendra Singh by a margin of 59,613 votes.

After sweeping the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and the assembly polls previous year, BJP faced formidable rivals in Uttar Pradesh in the form of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party who stitched a last-minute alliance. In Bihar's two assembly constituencies, RJD candidate retained Jehanabad seat and BJP retained Bhabhua seat.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's Indore parliamentary seat is not counted in the BJP's tally and the Election Commission is yet to declare a date for Kairana bypoll, where party's sitting MP Hukum Singh passed away last month.

This, the party says, is a clear message that people are angry with the BJP for its "arrogance and misrule". If the BJP draws the right lessons from the series of defeats and embarks on a course correction, it can still trump the combined Opposition in 2019. Both, SP and BSP, were curtailed to 50 and 20 seats respectively in last Assembly elections held in 2017.

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

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However, according to the Lok Sabha website, the BJP has now 274 MPs ~ 2 more than the 272 Lok Sabha members required for a simple majority on its own.

The BJP had wrested Phulpur Lok Sabha seat only in 2014.

BJP suffered a setback in the home turf of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath while losing Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's constituency too. This incident was raised in the ongoing sessions in both Uttar Pradesh Assembly and in Lok Sabha by the opposition parties. It must be reassured by former PM H D Deve Gowda's refusal to align with the ruling Congress in the Karnataka polls, holding up the prospect of a split in anti-BJP votes.

The BSP has extended its support to the SP candidates in both the seats whereas there are reports of tacit understanding of the Congress with the SP. The SP and BSP had formed a coalition government in the state in 1993 when the BJP, despite emerging as the single largest party following the demolition of the Babri mosque, failed to get a majority.

While BSP said it was not interested in contesting the bye-elections, the Congress and the SP felt contesting separately was a better option. It could put a fresh question mark over its unquestioned frontrunner status for the next Lok Sabha polls, spoiling the party over the recent saffron successes in the north-east. He said that if in 2019 or 2022, the opposition comes together in the similar manner then party would also form its strategy accordingly.

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