Thursday, March 15, 2018

Gored-akhpur - What BJP's loss means

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath stand together during a visit to a crafts centre with French President Emmanuel Macron in Varanasi on Monday. Modi had not responded to the bypoll results till Wednesday night while Adityanath blamed “overconfidence” for the defeat.  (AFP Picture)

Lucknow: Mayawati has defeated the BJP in the trophy Lok Sabha seats of Gorakhpur and Phulpur, transferring the votes of her core constituency to the Samajwadi Party and churning equations ahead of the general election next year.

While the Dalit voters of Mayawati responded to her call to vote for the Samajwadi Party candidate, the RSS slogan of "Hindu unity" did not cut much ice.

In Bihar, too, Lalu Prasad's RJD protected its turf in the Araria Lok Sabha seat.

The following are the quick takeaways from the bypoll results:

• It's rare for a party to lose seats vacated by the chief minister (Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur) and the deputy chief minister (Keshav Prasad Maurya in Phulpur) within a year of an unprecedented victory in the Assembly polls.

• The silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi till Wednesday night was telling. Reaffirms the charge that Modi always ducks bad news - not a sign of a great leader.

• The BJP dispensation cannot downplay the importance of bypolls. It was a by-election that had led to the rise of Narendra Modi. Keshubhai Patel, the then towering chief minister of Gujarat, was replaced by Modi in 2001 after the BJP's defeat in the Sabarkantha Lok Sabha and Sabarmati Assembly bypolls. Ironically, L.K. Advani, now sidelined, had prevailed over A.B. Vajpayee to pick Modi.

• The by-election results reflect the fragility of the proclaimed BJP wave in heartland states.

• The tactical coming together of the SP and the BSP is seen as testing the waters for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The bypoll results show the BJP can be defeated by uniting the social justice forces.

• The BJP claimed to have transcended caste in UP. But the results suggest the backward castes and the Dalits are still behind parties that represent them.

• Gorakhpur and Phulpur represent the microcosm of UP. While Gorakhpur is seen as a Hindutva laboratory, Phulpur is a hub of the backward castes. The BJP has been defeated in both. Its Tripura euphoria has proved short-lived.

• The Congress's decline in the heartland continues apace. Its best bet is to be a junior partner in alliances led by non-BJP parties in UP and Bihar.

• The RJD's victory in Bihar marks the coming of age of Tejashwi Yadav as a leader in his own right. He led the battle as Lalu Prasad is behind bars.

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