Lucknow: The outrage over the Hathras incident and the anti-incumbency factor don’t seem to have impacted the electoral fortunes of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, as the party is set to win five of the seven assembly by-elections held in the state.
The BJP leads in Bangarmau, Bulandshahr, Deoria, Ghatampur and Tundla, while Samajwadi Party leads comfortably in Malhani, and the two parties are neck-and-neck in Naugawan Sadat. In the last assembly elections in 2017, the BJP had won all but the Malhani seat.
The Naugawan Sadat seat fell vacant after the death of state minister and former cricketer Chetan Chauhan. His wife Sangeeta Chauhan is the BJP candidate, who is leading comfortably.
Bangarmau, meanwhile, was vacated due to the conviction of BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in the Unnao rape and murder case. However, the BJP’s popularity hasn’t been dented, as its candidate Shrikant Katiyar is leading.
About 53 per cent of voters had exercised their franchise in the bypolls, held on 3 November.
Yogi gets the credit
BJP leaders claim that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s dominance is the reason why the party is maintaining its 2017 form. Its spokesperson Dr Chandra Mohan said; “There was no anti-incumbency against us. Yogi ji has proved that we are working for the welfare of the poor and for the development of the state. His government’s performance has been vindicated.”
Hitting out at the opposition, he added: “Those who do caste-based politics have been exposed. The opposition in UP is only active on social media, not on the ground.”
Sources in the BJP said Yogi himself held a rally on every seat that was up for grabs, and monitored the party’s campaign plan, while opposition leaders Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Priyanka Gandhi didn’t campaign on any seat. Some mocked the opposition leaders for being on “work from home” mode.
But UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said the party was on a learning curve. “We will take lessons from these bypolls, although our vote share has increased. We will focus more on how to improve the party’s position in UP politics.”
Prof. Kaviraj, political science professor at Lucknow University, also said the opposition parties must learn that without hard work on the ground, they can’t defeat the BJP.
“Congress and BSP are not even opening their account, which shows how much ground they have to cover to fight the BJP,” he said.
Kaviraj added that the bypoll mandate makes it clear that Yogi Adityanath will continue to be the face of the BJP in the 2022 polls, as he has passed a litmus test with 15 months to go.