Mayawati on why BJP could go for early Lok Sabha polls; top developments

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav with senior leaders Kiranmoy Nanda and Azam Khan addresses a press conference after the by-election results. (Photo: PTI)

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Thursday said the BJP may call for early Lok Sabha elections after its stunning defeat in the parliamentary bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, whose gamble of backing the Samajwadi Party for the bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur in the state paid rich dividends, said the idea was to teach the party a lesson. Addressing a rally here, she labelled the Narendra Modi government at the Centre a "dictatorship" and alleged that it had "surpassed" the Emergency imposed by the Congress government in 1975. Mayawati also accused the government of weakening democracy and making constitutional organisations and the media ineffectual. "In Uttar Pradesh, we wanted to teach the BJP a lesson and decided to support SP candidates so that it loses the seats earlier held by the chief minister and deputy chief minister... They have lost their sleep with this result," she said.

The Uttar Pradesh and Bihar Lok Sabha and Assembly by-election results dealt a major blow to the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Wednesday. The party, which is in power in both the states, lost four of the five seats in the bypoll including the all-important Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Gorakhpur seat, until recently, was represented by chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Significantly, Gorakhpur was earlier held by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had held the Phulpur seat. 

Especially worrisome for the BJP was the fact that it was trounced by the BSP-backed Samajwadi Party in the high-stakes Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls which could boost the chances of a 'mahagathbandhan' of anti-BJP parties before the 2019 general elections.   

After sweeping the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections last year, the BJP faced a last-minute alliance stitched by the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the bypolls. BSP supremo Mayawati had announced her party's backing for SP candidates in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur in return for the SP's support for her party's candidate in the Rajya Sabha biennial elections. 

The BJP lost the Gorakhpur seat to the SP by a margin of 21,961 votes. SP candidate Pravin Kumar Nishad got 456,437, while his nearest rival BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla secured 434,476 votes. In the Phulpur constituency, SP candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel defeated BJP candidate Kaushalendra Singh by a margin of 59,613 votes. The winner polled 342,796 votes, while the BJP candidate secured 283,183. 

Meanwhile, in Bihar, the BJP also lost the Araria Lok Sabha constituency and the Jehanabad Assembly seat while scoring a consolation win in the Bhabua Assembly seat. The results in both the states triggered calls for a Grand Alliance -- a la Bihar -- all across India to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

Once the outcome of the Uttar Pradesh 2018 bypolls was known, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that "over-confidence and the inability to understand the understanding between SP and BSP" were the prime reasons for the BJP's defeat. 

Here are the top 10 developments in the shock defeat for BJP in UP and Bihar bypolls   

1) SP victory boosts chances of an anti-BJP coalition in UP: With the tacit understanding between the Samajwadi Party and the BSP in the Lok Sabha bye-elections for two seats paying off, chances of a 'mahagathbandhan' of anti-BJP parties before the 2019 general elections got a boost in Uttar Pradesh. These results are the beginning of the formation of a broadest possible alliance of Opposition forces before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, senior political analyst and retired head of the political science department of the Lucknow University Ramesh Dixit said.   

"The Congress will also be forced to come into this fold with all the major players," Dixit said, adding that all these parties were working to oust the BJP. "This showing has come as a silver lining for all the other parties and, notwithstanding their inner contradictions, their major concern of maintaining their political relevance, which is under challenge, will guide them to fall in line," Dixit said.  

Social scientist professor Nadeem Husnain said that it was a fight for survival and that all the parties would be forced to somehow sew together a working alliance in 2019. "Their alliance in Uttar Pradesh in 2022 looks a little difficult as they have major stakes in the state and issues like leadership and chief minister's post are their Achilles heel," Husnain, who was with the department of Anthropology of Lucknow University, said. 

ALSO READ: Bypoll results underscore BJP's vulnerability against united Oppn

2) Siddaramaiah's advice to Yogi: The Karnataka CM on Thursday advised his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath not to lecture to his state on development after BJP lost the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-elections in the northern state.

"Congratulations to Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party for this historic victory. Unity among the non-BJP parties has played a key role. Perhaps Yogi Adityanath should spend less time lecturing Karnataka on development," said Siddaramaiah in a tweet.

Adityanath had addressed several rallies in the poll-bound southern state in the last two months.

2) Akhilesh drives to Mayawati's residence: Setting aside 25 years of bitter and historic rivalry, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav drove to the residence of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati to thank her for the support to his party's candidates in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. While Akhilesh Yadav had thanked the BSP chief, whom he fondly calls 'Buaji' (aunt), at a hurriedly called press conference on Wednesday evening, he created a flutter in political circles in Lucknow as his cavalcade drove from his Vikramaditya Marg residence to the sprawling bungalow of Mayawati at Mall Avenue.  

They were closeted together for about 20 minutes. While what transpired between the two is not yet known, it is understood that the two discussed the poll outcome in which their parties together beat the ruling BJP. 

3) Congress says people 'showing BJP the door': Buoyed by the results of the Lok Sabha bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Opposition parties said that the verdict reflected "public anger" against the BJP and that it was the "beginning of the end" for the ruling party at the Centre.  

The Congress said that people across the country, angered by the BJP's "arrogance and misrule", were "showing it the door". Congratulating the winners of the Lok Sabha by-elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the outcomes showed that people were angry with the BJP and would vote for any non-BJP candidate with the potential to win. He also said that the Congress was keen to rebuild the party in Uttar Pradesh but added that it would "not happen overnight".

"Congratulations to the winners of today's by-elections. It is clear from the results that voters have a lot of anger towards the BJP and will vote for any non-BJP candidate who has more chances of winning. The Congress is keen on rebuilding the party in Uttar Pradesh, but that will not happen overnight," he tweeted in Hindi.

The party's candidates in the state lost their deposits in the recent by-polls to the two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. 

4) Lalu says 'victory of truth over falsehood': RJD President Lalu Prasad, who is currently in jail following his conviction in the fodder scam cases, described his party's victory in the Bihar bypolls as the "victory of truth over falsehood". 

"The more you pour the fuel of conspiracy on Lalu, the brighter will his lantern burn. Millions of salutations to the people of Bihar for upholding justice. This is a victory of truth over falsehood," the RJD supremo, whose party has the lantern as its election symbol, tweeted in Hindi.

The RJD retained Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad Assembly seats in the by-elections for three seats in Bihar. The BJP retained Bhabhua Assembly seat.

Prasad also thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who congratulated him on the "great victory", saying "Thank you, didi. Together we are fighting. We shall fight and we will win". 

5) Adityanath blames 'over-confidence' for BJP's loss: Once the outcome of the Uttar Pradesh bypolls 2018 became known, Adityanath said that "over-confidence and the inability to understand the understanding between SP and BSP" were the prime reasons for the BJP's shocking loss. The Chief Minister said that the Lok Sabha bye-election results were a "lesson" for the BJP and cause for a review.  

"When the candidates were declared, the SP, BSP, and Congress were not together. They had not joined hands then. But suddenly in the middle of the election, the SP and the BSP forged an electoral understanding," he told media at his residence. The over-confidence and inability to understand the electoral understanding between the SP and the BSP led to the defeat, Adityanath stressed. 

Political bargaining has started in the state and people of the state will understand it, he claimed. The chief minister, who has represented Gorakhpur in Lok Sabha five times, said local issues led to his party's poor performance and not the policies of the Centre. Local issues dominated and voter turnout was also low, he said.

"When general elections are held, there will be national issues. Under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, there has been a sense of confidence which is prevailing in the country," he said, adding that the party would review all aspects.

6) 'Wait and watch': Refusing to comment on the possibility of an alliance between the SP and the BSP for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Senior Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said, "Just wait and watch." Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Yadav said that the victory of the SP in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bye-elections was a referendum against the Yogi government.   

"Me and my party are grateful to the BSP and its workers who worked hard to ensure the victory of the SP candidate in these by-polls. As far as 2019 general elections is concerned, just wait and watch. And hope for the best," Yadav said.  

7) Congress claims BJP has lost simple majority in LS: As the BJP lost two Lok Sabha bypolls in UP and one in Bihar, the Congress said that the ruling party had "lost the simple majority in the Lok Sabha on its own". The Congress said that the results gave a clear message that the people were angry with the BJP for its "arrogance and misrule".  

"The 2017-18 report card of the BJP is 0/10 -- the BJP lost all 10 Lok Sabha by-elections in 2017 and 2018. Bypoll results have given a clear message that people are angry with the BJP for its arrogance and misrule," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted. He said that the Lok Sabha seats lost by the BJP in 2017 were Amritsar, Srinagar, Malappuram, and Gurdaspur, as well as Ajmer, Alwar, Uluberia, Gorakhpur, Phulpur, and Araria in 2018. 

"In May 2014, the BJP won 282 Lok Sabha seats. In four years, the BJP is down to 271, losing the simple majority in the Lok Sabha minus its allies -- considering the fact that Modi has suspended party MP Kirti Azad and virtually disowned their most truthful and fiercely independent Patna Sahib MP (Shatrughan Sinha)," Surjewala claimed.

2017-18 Report Card of BJP is 0/10- BJP lost all 10 LS by-elections in 2017 & 2018.

By-Poll results have given clear message that Ppl are angry with BJP for its arrogance & misrule.

2017-Amritsar,Srinagar, Malappuram,Gurdaspur

2018-Ajmer,Alwar, Uluberia,Gorakhpur,Phulpur,Araria

— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 14, 2018

In May 2014, BJP won 282 Lok Sabha seats.

In 4 years, BJP Govt is down to 271, losing the simple majority in Lok Sabha minus its allies - considering the fact that PM Modi has suspended Kirti Azad & virtually disowned their most truthful, fiercely independent Patna Sahib MP.

— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 14, 2018

However, the BJP has lost only seven seats in by-elections held so far in the past four years. In the by-elections since Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014, the BJP lost to Congress on four seats, to the Samajwadi Party on two seats, and to the Rashtriya Janata Dal on one seat. According to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the BJP has 274 MPs in the Lower House, excluding the Speaker of the House. 

8) 'It's Nitish's time to offer an explanation': After the Bihar results, former deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav said that the people have given their verdict and it is Janata Dal (United) President Nitish Kumar's time to offer an explanation for his party's loss in the state bypolls. The Leader of Opposition in the Bihar Assembly said: "Nitishji used to advise that one should go to the people's court, but now the public has given its verdict and it is Nitishji's turn to give an explanation. (Nitish) is a morally corrupt person." 

The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader said he welcomed those who felt the suffocation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to the Grand Alliance. Yadav also said that his party's victory in the Araria and Jehanabad Assembly seats was not casual and that the results had paved a new direction for the country. 

Earlier, he took to Twitter to "dedicate the win to the people of the state" and thanked them for supporting the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and his ideology. 

10) Winning Gorakhpur and Phulpur was prestige issue for BJP: The results of Gorakhpur and Phulpur came as a shock to the BJP. Gorakhpur was vacated by Chief Minister Adityanath, who had been its representative since 1998; Phulpur fell vacant after his deputy, Keshav Prasad Maurya, quit it. Winning these was a prestige issue for the party.  


With agency inputs

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel