IF ONE has to choose one development project that outgoing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had highlighted in almost all his election rallies, it is the Lucknow-Agra Expressway. He had even claimed that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would take a ride on the expressway, he would also vote for SP.
However, poll results showed that Akhilesh’s “biggest project” failed to woo voters of 60 Assembly segments in the 10 districts — Lucknow, Hardoi, Unnao, Kannauj, Kanpur, Mainpuri, Etawah, Firozabad, Agra and Auraiya — through which the expressway passes. While BJP won 48 of these 60 seats, SP got 10.
After the poll results were declared on March 11, Akhilesh had told mediapersons that the expressway developed by his government probably did not attract people. Earlier, he had also told The Indian Express that if caste and religion win elections, what is need of building expressways?
In the 2012 UP polls, SP had won 40 of these 60 seats. It had won seven seats in Lucknow, six in Hardoi, five each in Unnao and Kanpur, four in Mainpuri, three each in Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya and Firozabad and one in Agra. While BSP had won 10 seats, BJP had won eight — four in Kanpur, two in Agra and one each in Lucknow and Firozabad. Congress had bagged two seats.
This election, BJP won 48 of the 60 seats, SP reducing to 10 and Congress and BSP getting one each.
SP retained Mohanlalganj seat where party’s Ambrish Singh Pushkar defeated BSP’s Ram Bahadur by 530 votes. While BJP had offered its ticket to former BSP leader R K Chaudhary, he preferred to contest as an Independent. He bagged the third spot with BJP support. SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter in-law Aparna lost from Lucknow Cantonment.
SP won only the Hardoi city seat with sitting MLA Nitin Agarwal defeating BJP’s Raja Bakhs Singh by 5,109 votes. A minister in Akhilesh Yadav government, Nitin is the son of SP’s Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agrawal. Congress had contested in alliance with SP from Sandi but lost. SP had won Hardoi city in 2012.
SP had won five of six seats in Unnao in 2012, but could not win a single seat this time. While BJP won five, BSP bagged one seat of Purwa. Congress contested from Mohan and Bhagwatnagar and lost both. Akhilesh had organised a mega show in Bangermau Assembly segment on November 21, last year, to throw open the 302-km Lucknow-Agra expressway. Then, Sukhoi-30 jets and Mirage 2000 jet fighter planes of the Air force had touched down on the expressway, which has a 3.3 km-runway to land IAF fighter planes during emergencies.
SP MLA from Bangarmau, Badloo Khan, lost the seat to former SP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who contested on a BJP ticket. “If the election was fought on development issues, I would have won. But people voted for religion. Muslim votes got divided between me and the BSP candidate but Hindu votes got polarised towards BJP. Also, alliance with Congress damaged SP,” Khan said.
In Dimple Yadav’s Lok Sabha constituency, SP had won all three seats in 2012. In 2017, it retained Kannauj. BJP bagged the rest.
SP retained Sishamau and recorded win on Arya Nagar too, which had gone to BJP general secretary Salil Vishnoi in 2012. Congress too won one seat of Kanpur Cantonment by defeating sitting BJP MLA Raghunanda Bhadauriya.
SP had won all four seats in Mainpuri in the 2012 polls. This time, it bagged three seats. BJP’s Ram Naresh Agnihotri defeated SP’s Alok Kumar from Bhogao . Mulayam’s grandson Tej Pratap Singh Yadav is the Mainpuri MP.
Akhilesh had denied tickets to sitting MLAs in Barthana and Etawah. The two candidates he put up lost to BJP. Only his warring uncle Shivpal Yadav retained his seat Jaswant Nagar, from where he won a fifth consecutive term. SP candidate from Etawah, Kuldeep Gupta ‘Santu’, said, “The Lucknow-Agra Expressway project impressed people here and they are enjoying its benefits. I have got 73,892 votes. But caste issues dominated and a number of SP leaders lobbied to defeat me.”
SP retained only one seat of Sirsaganj. It bagged the third spot in Tundla, where BJP’s S P Singh Baghel won. Firozabad is the Lok Sabha constituency of Akshay Yadav, son of SP leader in Rajya Sabha, Ram Gopal Yadav.
SP and Congress lost all the nine seats in the district to BJP. While SP candidates stood third in Etmadpur, Agra Cantonment, Agra North, Fatehabad and Bah, its nominee finished fourth in Fatehpur Sikri. Congress contested from Agra South, Agra Rural and Kheragarh and came third in all.
SP lost all three seats to BJP.