The Zila Panchayat Chairperson polls in Uttar Pradesh, which the BJP swept, is an alarm bell for both the Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP). Congress lost its bastion of Rae Bareli from where Sonia Gandhi is the sitting MP while the SP lost in stronghold areas like Mainpuri from where Mulayam Singh Yadav is the MP.
SP had not lost this post in Mainpuri for the last three decades. The BJP also won the Zila Panchayat Chairperson post for the first time in history in both Amethi and Rae Bareli. The former was won by the SP in the 2016 elections while Rae Bareli was then won by the Congress. However, the Congress candidate in Rae Bareli, Aarti Singh, lost to BJP’s Ranjana Chaudhary this time. The Samajwadi Party had not put up its candidate in Rae Bareli.
In Amethi, the Congress did not contest but the SP candidate lost by a massive margin to BJP’s Rajesh Agrahir. The Rae Bareli loss would particularly hurt the Congress as its former leaders worked to ensure the party lost from Rae Bareli. Former Congress MLC Dinesh Singh, who contested from BJP against Sonia Gandhi in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, led this effort. His brother, Awadhesh Singh, had won for Congress as Zila Panchyat chairperson in 2016.
The alarm bells would also ring in SP as it lost even in its bastions like Mainpuri, Kannauj and Firozabad. BJP’s Archana Bhaduria’s win as Zila Panchayat chairperson in Mainpuri, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s parliamentary seat, came as a shock to the party as it had not lost this post for almost 30 years. SP also lost the Zila Panchayat chairman posts in three other districts like Sambhal, Moradabad and Rampur where it has a sitting MPs.
The SP has, however, blamed the losses on the “high-handedness and unlawful tactics” used by the ruling BJP government to defeat them in these polls.
In 2016, when SP was in power, it had won 63 out of the 75 seats in these polls while the BJP and its allies have now won 67 of these seats in a complete reversal of fortunes. In 2016, BJP and BSP had similarly accused SP government of high-handedness and misuse of official power. BJP then in fact had even lost from the Prime Minister’s constituency of Varanasi.