UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed 16 public meetings in Gorakhpur and five in Phulpur, where Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya addressed over two dozen nukkad sabhas along with seven election rallies. Formerly MPs, they had vacated these Lok Sabha seats after coming to power in UP, then led a high-voltage campaign that included state and Union ministers, and state BJP office-bearers. On Wednesday, the BJP lost both seats to SP-backed-by-BSP.
While the BJP ran a concentrated campaign and announced a series of projects for the two seats, the SP-BSP rested their hopes on recent poll arithmetic.
According to SP sources, party president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati had joined hands based on calculations showing that their votes in the 2017 Assembly elections, if added, would have exceeded the BJP tally. In Gorakhpur, the combined votes of SP (or its then ally Congress) and BSP were more than those of BJP in four out of five Assembly seats. In Phulpur, too, their combined total was ahead in four out of five Assembly seats.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, on the other hand, Yogi in Gorakhpur and Maurya in Phulpur had polled more than the SP and BSP together in each segment (see tables).
For the bypoll, the BJP had campaigners including minister Jai Prakash Nishad, Machchuara cell convener Manoj Kashyap, and former MLA Jai Prakash Nishad. The seat has nearly 3 lakh Nishad voters. Ministers Dharampal Singh, Swatantra Deo Singh, Ramapati Shastri, Siddharth Nath Singh, Anupama Jaiswal, Surya Pratap Shahi, Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan, Suresh Rana, Upendra Tiwari and Anil Rajbhar and Union MoS Shiv Pratap Shukla along with party state president Mahendra Nath campaigned for BJP nominee Upendra Shukla.
To win over Dalit voters, the BJP sent minister Ramapati Shastri to Dalit-dominated areas. And to counter Congress nominee Dr Sureetha Kareem, a gynaecologist, it organised interactive sessions for doctors with state BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey and Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh.
In Gorakhpur, Yogi addressed at least three public meetings in each segment. In Phulpur, he addressed one in each segment.
Before the bypolls were announced, the government had organised the Gorakhpur Festival in January, and the CM had laid the foundation stone of a government polytechnic at Sahjanwa, inaugurated LED street lights worth Rs 336 lakh on the 10-km Kalesar-Nausarh Road, and announced capital investment of Rs 1,500 in Gorakhpur Industrial Development Authority. In February, Yogi and Union minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot attended a social empowerment camp for distribution of appliances to persons with disabilities in Gorakhpur. Before that, Yogi had laid the foundation for 20 infrastructure projects worth Rs 406 crore, and inaugurated 33 other projects worth Rs 60 crore for Gorakhpur.
In Phulpur, Union minister Anupriya Patel addressed two meetings. Maurya attended all these and separately addressed more than two dozen nukkad sabhas. Rita Bahuguna Joshi and other state ministers campaigned there. In February, Maurya and Union minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid foundation stones for highway projects worth Rs 5,632 crore. In January, Maurya had laid the foundation stones for several projects.