In a major setback to the BJP, the saffron party lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats for which elections were held on March 11. The loss in Gorakhpur – a seat the party had retained for 27 years which included five consecutive terms by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath – has come as a bigger shock for the party. The Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Yogi became the chief minister last year.
Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Kumar Nishad won by 21,961 votes against BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla in Gorakhpur. In Phulpur, SP candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel registered a thumping win against BJP’s Kaushlendra Singh Patel by a margin of 59,460 votes.
Follow LIVE UPDATES: Samajwadi Party delivers crushing blow to BJP in Phulpur, Gorakhpur
Over confident of its victory in the run up to polls, the party found it hard to explain the loss. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who had vacated the Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency after being elected to the Legislative council, said, “Phulpur pehli baar jite they.. Gorakhpur lagatar jeet rahe hain.. Jahan chuk hui use dekhenge. (Had won Phulpur for the first time. We had been winning Gorakhpur continuously. Will review wherever we went wrong),” Maurya told reporters as defeat of the party became clear on both the seats.
It may be mentioned that while Phulpur was won by BJP for the first time in 2014 since independence, the party has been winning Gorakhpur since 1991. Maurya alleged that while BSP-SP announced support, even Congress, which had fielded its candidates gave indirect support to the SP candidate. He said that if in 2019 or 2022, the opposition comes together in the similar manner then party would also form its strategy accordingly.
Ripples on state assembly
Earlier in the day, as the counting progressed, the entire opposition got together and stopped the proceedings of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly as well as Council, demanding immediate discussion on reports of journalists being forced out of the counting centre in Gorakhpur.
As the speaker said that the issue cannot be raised in this manner, the opposition including SP, BSP as well as Congress members marched into the well of the house raising slogans, “Lok tantra ki hatyari sarkar nahi chalegi”, “Vote Ki dhandali band karo”. The entire question hour was washed out amid the pandemonium in the house and the house was adjourned for about an hour.
Later, opposition leaders alleged that despite court direction seeking action taken report from the state government on Gorakhpur District Magistrate Rajive Rautela in a case of illegal mining in Rampur District during his tenure as DM there, he was not removed.
“We had sought his removal in the past as well but no one listened. Today, journalists as well as party workers were forced out of the counting centre by the District Administration. The attempt has been made to kill the democracy. We would not sit quietly and have approached election commission with the complaint,” said Leader of opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary.
Ajay Kumar, Congress Legislature Party leader, said, “Despite court order regarding DM in an illegal mining case, the way the Chief Minister allowed him to continue as DM showed the actual intention of the Chief Minister. We would not let the house proceed till transparent counting proceeds on Gorakhpur.”