Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party today strengthened its grip over Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats with latest trends showing its candidates establishing sizeable leads over their nearest BJP rivals, indicating a stunning reversal for the state's ruling party.
The SP's electoral understanding with Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and tie-up with local satraps appeared to have paid dividends, prompting the BJP to speak of re-drawing its electoral strategy ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
In Gorakhpur, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's bastion, SP's Pravin Nishad was leading over BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla by 26,446 votes at the end of the 21st round of counting, officials said.
In Phulpur, SP candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel was leading by 47,351 votes over BJP's Kaushalendra Singh Patel after 28 rounds of counting, they added.
Though there were still some rounds of counting left, the electorate, it seemed, had decided not to back the saffron party, political observers said.
The bypolls were necessitated after Adityanath vacated the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya the Phulpur seat following their election to the UP legislative council.
Maurya said the reasons for the party's performance would be reviewed and future planning done by taking stock of the social and other factors that came into play in the by-elections.
He said the margin of defeat was not that significant and added that the party would review what went wrong in its strategy.
"BJP had won the Phulpur seat for the first time in 2014 but Gorakhpur has been with the party since long... We will have to see where the social factors went against us or where the workers did not work as hard as expected of them ...," Maurya said.
"We will sit and find a way to deal with the challenge that they (SP) posed later in the campaigning by taking the BSP's help," he added.
Senior minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharthnath Singh said his party would have to re-draw its electoral strategy following the new understanding between the SP and the BSP.
"We still have a year to go for the Lok Sabha polls. We can definitely review our strategy in the light of new political developments," he said.
Gorakhpur has long been considered a BJP stronghold with Adityanath representing the seat in the Lok Sabha five times. Before him, his mentor Yogi Avaidyanath was MP from the seat.
Phulpur, once represented by the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, witnessed a saffron surge in the 2014 Lok Sabha election when Maurya won the seat.