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UP by-elections: What went wrong for the BJP

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    The by-elections at Gorakhpur and Phulpur were a keenly watched affair. The elections became necessary after both the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister vacated their seats.

    Gorakhpur considered to be a bastion of UP CM, Yogi Adityanath is witnessing a surprise with the SP-BSP candidate spoiling the party for the BJP.

    UP by-elections: What went wrong for the BJP

    This contest had become more of a prestige battle and losing here is a setback for the BJP. In 2014, Yogi had won with a margin of 3,00,000 votes. He won almost half the votes polled.

    In Phulpur, it was Keshav Prasad Maurya, the deputy chief minister of UP who had polled 52 per cent of the votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Maurya was himself was taken by surprise. He was expecting that there would be a late surge for the BJP but later said that he did not expect that the BSP votes would transfer to the SP in such a manner.

    In Phulpur, the BJP would have hoped that don-turned-politician, Ateeq Ahmed would eat into the SP's vote share. Further, the party was wary of the fact that at least 50 per cent of the Dalit vote would go to the SP.

    In Gorakhpur, the SP-BSP combine took advantage of the fact that for the first time a representative of the Gorakhnath Mutt was not a BJP candidate. Nishads, the OBC community have been the traditional supporters of Adityanath. The fact that he was not the candidate could have swung the votes in favour of the SP.

    However, the coming together of the SP-BSP certainly has helped them. Both the Lok Sabha constituencies consist of ten assembly segments. The BJP had won nine of the ten in the 2017 UP elections. However if one looks at the combined vote share of the BSP-SP and Congress, it would have left the BJP with one seat. The SP and BSP had together polled 44 per cent of the votes. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the SP and BSP had polled 38.7 per cent of the votes when compared to the BJP's 52 per cent.

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