In a significant reversal for the BSP on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections,it today lost the by-election to the Bhadohi assembly seat,reserved for Scheduled Castes,to the Samajwadi Party.
This is the first time the BSP has lost an assembly by-election in Uttar Pradesh since it returned to power in the state in May 2007,and the blow comes just a day before Chief Minister Mayawati is to hold a meeting of party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. Mayawati had personally campaigned for the party candidate in Bhadohi and five of her ministers had camped there for almost a month.
The SPs Madhubala defeated the BSPs Amar Singh Saroj by more than 5,000 votes. The by-election was necessitated by the death of Sarojs sister-in-law Archana Saroj who,as a BSP candidate,had won in 2007 by a few hundred votes.
If the BSP defeat showed that its Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim combination,which it is heavily banking on in the LS elections,did not click in Bhadohi,it also indicated that Mulayam Singh Yadavs friendship with Kalyan Singh hasnt affected his standing among the Muslims. Like Mayawati,Mulayam had personally campaigned for the SP candidate in Bhadohi.
Dalits,Brahmins and Muslims constitute a majority of the voters in the constituency,and the BSP had done its best to mobilise all three. While PWD Minister Naseemuddin Sidiqqui had worked assiduously to woo the Muslims,Brahmin ministers Rakesh Dhar Tripathi,Nakul Dubey,Subhash Pandey and Rangnath Mishra had been assigned the job of winning over the Brahmins. Even the BSPs Brahmin mascot,Satish Chandra Mishra,had held a meeting of the Brahmin Bhaichara committee in Bhadohi. As for the Dalits,it was assumed that they would vote for none other than the BSP,which is headed by arguably the countrys tallest Dalit leader.
Reports suggest that while the BSP was able to win over a section of the Muslims,it lost out among the Dalits and Brahmins. While the Dalits were divided between the SP and BSP,a large chunk of the Brahmins voted for the BJPs Deendayal,accounting for his 14,000-plus votes.
Congress candidate Suresh Gautam came in seventh with 2,275 votes,less than even an Independent and local party candidates. The poor performance will leave the Congress with even less of a toehold in its seat-sharing talks with the SP. Gautam lashed out at the infighting in the party for the defeat,complaining that no senior leader had bothered to pitch in for him.
The general complaint that Archana Saroj,who was ill for a long time,had neglected the constituency after winning in 2007 also damaged the BSP. On the other hand,the work done by Bhadohi Nagarpalika Chairman Arif Siddiqui in taking care of local issues helped the SP candidate.
BSP leaders,who remained incommunicado for most part of the day,blamed a dispute within the family of the late Archana Saroj for the partys defeat. Archanas father Ram Nihor Rakesh,who is an old Congressman,wanted the party ticket for his son. Rakesh damaged the party in the election, said a party leader,adding the party would not allow such things to happen in the Lok Sabha elections.