Lucknow: The Congress suffered extreme humiliation at the hands of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh when its national president Rahul Gandhi lost from Amethi, leaving the party with only one seat of Rae Bareli which Sonia Gandhi won by a margin of 1.60 lakh votes.
Even though the BJP failed by a small margin to repeat its 2014 general election tally of 71, it won 60 of the state’s 80 seats, two were won by its ally Apna Dal (S), 11 seats went to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), 5 to the Samajwadi Party (SP), one each to the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi lost to Union minister Smriti Irani by a margin of about 48,000 votes. With this defeat, the 39-year old association of Amethi with the Gandhi family came to an end. The younger generation in this sleepy small town apparently did not pay much heed to the long-held emotional bond with the Gandhi family and the Congress party.
Smriti Irani had been regularly coming to Amethi after losing the 2014 election, and had established a personal rapport with women and young people of the area. Amethi was first won by the Congress in 1980 when Sanjay Gandhi had won, but after his death, Rajiv Gandhi won the seat in a by-election in 1981 and retained it in 1984, 1989 and in 1991.
In 1991 and 1996, Captain Satish Sharma, a close aide of the Gandhi family, won the seat but in 1998, the BJP wrested the seat when Sanjay Singh was elected. A year later, Sonia Gandhi entered politics and won the Amethi seat which she retained till 2004. Rahul Gandhi won the seat in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
Among the winners from the SP was Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri and Akhilesh Yadav from (Azamgarh). Jayant Chaudhary of the RLD won from Baghpat, even as his father, the veteran Ajit Singh, lost from Muzaffarnagar. The SP and BSP had contested this election in a pre-poll alliance, along with RLD.
While the BSP managed to derive whatever advantage it could from the experiment, the SP came down from the 2014 tally by one. Three members of Mulayam’s family – all sitting MPs – lost this time: Dimple Yadav (Akhilesh Yadav’s wife from Kannauj), Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav (both Mulayam’s nephews) from Badayun and Firozabad.
The SP-BSP alliance, however, checked a clean sweep for the BJP in UP, as has happened in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. In these states, the opposition Congress has managed to win only 1 to 5 seats each.
The results also indicated that voters had ignored caste and community differences in most cases while supporting the BJP. The exceptions were from Ghazipur, where Union minister Manoj Sinha lost to BSP’s Afzal Ansari in the predominantly Muslim constituency. A similar result came from Rampur, where Mohd Azam Khan of the SP defeated Jaya Prada of BJP.
Among the remarkable wins was that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi who defeated Shalini Yadav of the SP by more than 4.80 lakh votes. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh defeated Poonam Sinha of the SP by about 4.40 lakh votes. In both these places, the Congress nominees were a distant third.