The ruling BJP has wrested two key parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh by-polls, steamrolling the Samajwadi Party in the latter’s bastions. It has in its kitty now the prestigious Azamgarh seat, which it could not win even during the Modi wave of 2014 & 2019; the icing on the cake is the Rampur parliamentary constituency, which is a stronghold of SP leader Azam Khan.
In the 2019 general election, SP had won both Azamgarh and Rampur parliamentary seats. While SP chief Akhilesh had won from Azamgarh, the Rampur seat had gone to Azam Khan. Both SP leaders had vacated these parliamentary seats after being elected to the state assembly in the recently held elections.
This time, in the Rampur by-election, BJP candidate Ghanshyam Lodhi defeated Asim Raja of SP by a margin of 42,192 votes; in Azamgarh, the BJP candidate and Bhojpuri film star Dinesh Lal Yadav defeated Akhilesh’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav by a margin of over 20,000 votes. The Congress had not contested from any of these two seats while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had only fielded its candidate in Azamgarh.
Elated over the win, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ascribed it to the public welfare schemes of his double-engine government under the able guidance of PM Modi.
While shocked SP leaders have blamed the administration for the debacle, the over confidence of party chief Akhilesh is said to be the prime reason behind the defeat. Besides, the BSP fielded a minority candidate, which dented the SP’s, vote bank.
Such was the over confidence that Akhilesh Yadav did not even address a single meeting in both the constituencies during the month-long campaigning. He deployed a few senior leaders in Azamgarh but in Rampur the canvassing was left to the acumen of Azam Khan.
According to political analysts, the BSP played a spoilsport for SP candidates. In Rampur, where BSP did not field its candidates, the party leaders were seen campaigning for BJP. However, in Azamgarh, BSP candidate Shah Alam made a major foray in the minority vote citadel of SP. Akhilesh also did not bother to rope in Congress leaders in the campaign despite the fact the later had given a walkover in both the seats.