Setback for BJP! A year after Lok Sabha battle, churning in Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow, Nov 3: Just over a year after the BJP wiped out everyone else in the Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh, the panchayat polls have dealt a major blow to it and given a fresh lease of life to the BSP and the Samajwadi Party. The Congress remains where it was -- in the dumps.

Amid conflicting claims and counter claims of victory, the voters seem to have packed a punch: do not take us for granted.

Setback for BJP in UP Panchayat polls

The only clear victors seem to be the independents, who have won at most places, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which was routed in the Lok Sabha polls.

By all accounts, the BSP has fared pretty well, prompting its leader and former chief minister Mayawati to claim that her party was "number one" in the country's most populous state.

And if the Congress performed abysmally in its bastions Rae Bareli and Amethi, which party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi represent in the Lok Sabha, the BJP lost emphatically in Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) did well compared to the BJP and the Congress but the relatives of its senior ministers and leaders were defeated.

Fresh entrant MIM of Asaduddin Owaisi opened its account in Azamgarh, the Lok Sabha constituency of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

And Mulayam Singh's aide Totaram Yadav stood 20th and lost his deposit in Mainpuri, the bastion of the Yadav clan.

Samajwadi leaders, however, claim the mandate is in its favour. Everyone does not agree.

"Our party leaders are watching the situation. For now we see the results as a face saver," says a minister recently elevated to cabinet rank.

But the defeat of many family members of party leaders and ministers has not gone down well with the Samajwadi leadership, specially Mulayam and his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The next assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are due in early 2017.

Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary claims victory in 80 percent from among the 3,112 Zila Panchayat members and 77,576 Regional Panchayat members.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats last year, has been jolted by the Zila Panchayat results.

It is taking consolation in the fact that its numbers rose from a paltry 58 to 533 this time. But the unease is palpable.

"A threadbare scrutiny will be done to find out why we could not do better," said state BJP president Laxmikant Bajpayi.

A BJP veteran from eastern Uttar Pradesh, now sidelined, says the party should not have ventured into the polls.

"The leadership was swayed by the Modi charisma. They should understand that Modi cannot be expected to be your face even in local body polls."

In the district panchayat polls in Varanasi, BJP-supported candidates won only nine of the 48 seats. In contrast, 22 Samajwadi party-backed nominees were victorious.

The BJP-supported candidate from Jayapur, the village Modi adopted last year, also lost -- by 800 votes.

The Congress failed to reignite voters' faith in the grand old party. Candidates supported by it bit the dust in almost all seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli.


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