Vishwanathganj assembly seat in Pratapgarh, one of the Lok Sabha seats the Apna Dal would go on to win, had a byelection following the death of Samajwadi Party MLA Raja Ram Pandey.
The BJP leadership is said to have ignored reports about confusion on the ground. Both parties had declared their bypoll candidates before the Lok Sabha poll alliance was finalised. The local BJP unit then approached state leaders to decide who should withdraw.
“But state leaders paid no heed to us. Both candidates campaigned, the Apna Dal more vigorously,” said a local BJP leader. “As the Apna Dal had the same symbol for the Lok Sabha and assembly polls and voting took place the same day, confused voters picked the Apna Dal candidate in the bypoll too.”
Party president Laxmikant Bajpai admitted, “The party missed the byelection while deciding the alliance, and later during the campaign. We got busy with the Lok Sabha campaign because that was more important,” Bajpai said.
Apna Dal candidate Rakesh Kumar Verma won 62,085 votes; BJP candidate Brijesh Saurabh with 18,356 votes was fifth.
In two other byelections held simultaneously — in Fatehpur and Rampur Khas — the BJP and the Congress won respectively.