Gorakhpur/Patna: In a major blow to the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, backed by its otherwise bitter foe BSP, wrested the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh and was set to win in Gorakhpur, seats vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Samajwadi Party candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel defeated his nearest Bharatiya Janata Party rival Kaushlendra Singh Patel by 59,613 votes, leading to noisy celebrations and calls for opposition unity across the nation to defeat the BJP in next year’s Lok Sabha battle.
The results were announced after 31 rounds of counting.
The Bahujan Samaj Party had extended support to the Samajwadi Party in a bid to avoid a split in opposition vote.
Amid beating of drums and distribution of sweets, 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.
Mafia don-turned-politician Ateeq Ahmad, contesting as an Independent from inside the jail, won 33,818 votes in Phulpur while Manish Mishra (Congress) got 11,934 votes.
SP’s Praveen Kumar Nishad is leading in the Gorakhpur constituency with 377,146 votes after 25 rounds of counting. BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla is second with 354,192 votes.
Yogi Adityanath and Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats respectively after being elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. Both seats were a status fight for the BJP.
As the vote count moved towards the final rounds, Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Nishad had secured 334,463 votes in Gorakhpur, with the BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla at the second spot with 308,593 votes. One official said Nishad had won.
The setback comes as a huge shocker to the year-old BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, where Adityanath has represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha seat for five consecutive times.
Both the Lok Sabha constituencies voted on Sunday.
“This is a rejection of both (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and Yogi (Adityanath),” Samajwadi Party spokesman Anurag Bhaudauria told IANS.
“They have been making tall promises but not delivering on the ground,” he said, explaining why the voters appeared to have turned away against the BJP so dramatically in these two seats since the 2014 Lok Sabha battle.
In a rare show of camaraderie, Samajwadi Party leaders admitted that the BSP decision to back their party played a critical role in the outcome.
In 2014, the BJP stunningly won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats while one of its allies secured two. The Samajwadi Party won from five seats. The Congress won two seats and the BSP drew a blank.
The Samajwadi Party took early lead right from the beginning of the vote count that began on Wednesday morning and steadily built up the gap with its BJP rivals as officials counted the tens of thousands of votes.
Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajeev Rautela earlier sparked a storm by barring journalists from entering the counting centre and did not announce details of counting after the first two rounds.
After the defeat of BJP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath said, “We accept the verdict of the people, this result is unexpected, we will review the shortcomings. I congratulate the winning candidates.”
Gorakhpur has been held by Yogi Adityanath since 1998 – he was the youngest MP at 26 – and three times before that by his mentor Advaidyanath.
Phulpur is an extremely prominent Lok Sabha seat that the BJP had wrested only in 2014. It has been represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, his sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit and also former Prime Minister V P Singh.
The fate of the third parliamentary seat being called today is Araria in Bihar, where too the BJP is trailing, this time behind Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD.
RJD won the Araria Lok Sabha bypoll by 61,988 votes.
RJD got 5,09,334 votes and BJP got 4,47,346 votes in Bihar.
Counting for two Assembly seats in Bihar were also held today. BJP’s Rinky Rani Pandey has won Bhabhua Assembly seat while the RJD has won the Jehanabad Assembly seat.
Since there are no permanent enemies in politics, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have come together this time to stop the BJP.
The last time they joined hands was in 1992 — to take charge of the state after the sacking of BJP’s Kalyan Singh in the aftermath of the Babri demolition.
The elections were said to test the recently formed electoral arrangement between the two arch-rivals — Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP). The two parties have come together in Phulpur and Gorakhpur for the first time after 1991 to take on the BJP.