Lucknow/Patna: In a stunning reversal of fortunes for the BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections, the party on Wednesday lost bypolls to all three Lok Sabha seats it contested, including its bastion Gorakhpur, and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh, besides Araria in Bihar.
A consolidation of OBC, Dalit and Muslim votes powered Samajwadi Party candidates to victory in Gorakhpur, a seat represented by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for five successive terms, and Phulpur, which elected his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP had won Phulpur for the first time.
Both of them had won their seats by margins of over 3 lakh votes.
Samajwadi Party's Pravin Nishad defeated BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla by 21,961 votes in Gorakhpur, the seat which was with the party since 1989, while Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel of SP clinched the Phulpur seat drubbing the saffron party's Kaushalendra Singh Patel by 59,460 votes.
As trends began to turn the way of the Samajwadi Party in Gorakhpur, a top official scripted a major political controversy by banning the media from the area where votes were being counted.
Lalu Prasad's RJD retained the Araria Lok Sabha seat where its nominee Sarfaraz Alam beat BJP's Pradeep Kumar Singh by over 60,000 votes, in a set back for the JD(U)-BJP alliance, which went to the hustings for the first time after Nitish Kumar returned to the NDA fold.
In small consolation for the BJP, its candidate Rinki Rani Pandey retained the Bhabhua Assembly seat for the party, defeating her Congress rival Shambhu Singh Patel by about 14,000 votes.
The RJD retained the Jehanabad Assembly seat, with its nominee Suday Yadav defeating his JD(U) rival Abhiram Sharma by more than 30,000 votes.
It brought back memories of the triumph of the now-defunct JD(U)-RJD-Congress Grand Alliance in Bihar which had trounced the BJP-led NDA in 2015. The success was attributed to the consolidation of OBC and Muslim voters in favour of the Grand alliance after the two major parties--JD(U) and RJD came together.
The SP and BSP had formed a coalition government in the state in 1993 when the BJP, despite emerging as the single largest party following the demolition of the Babri mosque, failed to get a majority.
In Gorakhpur, a consolidation of OBC-Dalit-Muslim votes, which used to get split between the SP and BSP, besides the support of smaller entities like the Nishad Party and Peace Party, worked its magic for the Samajwadi Party candidates.
The bypoll victories may now nudge the secular parties to forge a broad alliance of anti-BJP forces at the national level before the general elections.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi described the results as a reflection of public anger against the BJP.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav termed the victory as one of "social justice" and profusely thanked the BSP for its support.
The BJP had scored a thumping victory in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and together with ally Apna Dal, won 73 of the states 80 seats. The NDA allies had polled 43.3 percent votes.
The NDA improved upon its performance in the 2017 Assembly polls, winning 325 seats in the 403-member Assembly, polling 48.7 percent votes. The SP won 47 seats with 21.8 percent votes. The BSP won 19 seats with 22.2 percent votes. The two parties together polled 40.8 percent votes.