Causing a major upset to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party (SP) won the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha assembly seats as the results of the state bypolls held on March 11 were declared on Wednesday.
In Gorakhpur, SP's Pravin Nishad defeated BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla by a margin of 21,881 votes. In Phulpur, SP's Nagendra Patel forged a massive win over his nearest rival BJP's Kaushlendra Singh Patel.
The Lok Sabha assembly constituencies of Gorakhpur and Phulpur that went to polls on March 11 saw a voter turnout of 47.45 per cent and 37.39 per cent respectively.
The poll alliance between the two political arch-rivals - BSP and SP - passed its first litmus test to dethrone the BJP from its saffron bastions in both the Gorakhpur and Phulpur assembly seats.
The headlines making headwinds in the tabloids are indicative that the Mayawati-Akhilesh combination was successful in fading BJP's strong Yodi-Modi wave which had a grip in the state since the last assembly polls.
The byelection results have come as a big setback to the ruling BJP which had maintained a stranglehold over the Gorakhpur seat. Gorakhpur has been tagged as a BJP fortress as the parliamentary seat had been represented by UP Cheif Minister Yogi Adityanath for five consecutive terms (1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections).
Meanwhile, the result would give a huge fillip to the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party, which lost the last state assembly elections held in April 2017. Political pundits are also looking at the result as some kind of a minor resurgence for the opposition parties which were rendered irrelevant in the Hindi heartland.
The talks of a possible third front at the national political arena to counter PM Modi-led BJP may be further bolstered considering how the voter's mandate has gone against the Adityanath's government. It would be interesting to see how the BJP think tank regroup from this major upset as the party heads into the political battle with state elections coming up in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The bypolls were conducted after Adityanath and his Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their seats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, respectively, on taking office.