By Pradeep Kapoor
LUCKNOW: The upbeat mood of SP and BSP leaders and workers after the victory in Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections is contrasted by a sharp dip in the morale of BJP ministers and leaders. So much so that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has cancelled his engagements for two days. His ministers also avoided attending public functions to spare themselves of embarrassment.
There is no clarity on the causes of defeat of the party candidates. Yogi Adityanath has gone on record that his party became a victim of overconfidence. BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pande said that low polling was responsible for the defeat of the party candidates. He also blamed lack of booth management as a major reason.
Demoralised with the humiliating defeat in Gorakhpur, BJP leader and spokesman IP Singh launched an attack on the party leadership against what he described as the wrong choice of candidate. He alleged that Yogi wanted the ticket to be given to his supporter, but the party leadership opted for Upendra Dutt Shukla, who had no support. Had the party leadership given the ticket to the person enjoying the support of the chief minister, BJP would have retained Gorakhpur, he asserted.
Similarly in Phulpur, supporters of deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya blamed the leadership for the defeat of the party candidate. They said that party would have retained the seat won for the first time if Maurya’s advice was taken seriously by the central leadership.
While the central leadership and Yogi are upset with the result, the ordinary worker is happy as they have got an opportunity to blame the arrogance of those enjoying the fruits of power while ignoring the hard work these people did for the unprecedented result in the 2017 assembly polls when party came to power with 325 seats.
Yogi Adityanath is so upset with the results that he has scaled down the celebrations for one year of his rule. Initially it was planned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah would be invited for the grand celebrations. But the humiliating defeat in the by-elections dampened the sprits and the government reconciled itself to inviting Governor Ram Naik for the low key celebrations.
The party suffered another jolt when cabinet minister and coalition partner Om Prakash Rajbhar announced the boycott of celebrations. He went to the extent of threatening not to support the BJP candidate in the Rajya Sabha biennial polls till Amit Shah personally met him. Om Pradhan Rajbhar has four MLAs and his support is crucial for Anil Agarwal, the ninth candidate of BJP. Rajbhar had levelled serious corruption charges against the state police especially at the thana level.
On the other hand, there is so much excitement in the Samajwadi Party, with huge hoardings carrying the pictures of Akhilesh and BSP national president Mayawati having come up outside the party headquarters and other places in Lucknow.
While Akhilesh Yadav has hinted at continuing the understanding with BSP for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Leader of Opposition in the UP Assembly, Ram Govind Choudhry, announced on a public platform that his party in alliance with BSP and like-minded parties would work toward making Mayawati as PM and Akhilesh as CM of UP. BSP workers are also vocal about continuance of the alliance to remove Modi and Yogi and give the state a government that will work for social justice.
Congress rank and file is shocked by the poor performance of party candidates in both the places, especially in Phulpur which had been the constituency of Jawahar Lal Nehru. Although the central and state leadership is against an alliance with SP or BSP as of now, a large section of Congress leaders and workers wants the party to join the alliance. Several senior leaders have sought an approximant with AICC president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the strategy for revival of the party in state for a better performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.