Complacency and overconfidence contributed to shock defeats for the Samajwadi Party (SP) in its bastions of Azamgarh and Rampur in the Lok Sabha byelections as well as for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab’s Sangrur, its Chief Minister’s parliamentary fortress.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav did not even campaign in Rampur or Azamgarh, while UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath aggressively did. This was despite Azamgarh being Yadav’s parliamentary seat, which he gave up to retain Karhal assembly seat in a bid to be more aggressive against the Yogi government in UP. His cousin, Dharmendra Yadav, contested from Azamgarh, but an overconfident Akhilesh did not campaign even for him.
Rampur strongman MLA of the SP, Azam Khan, was in jail for over two years, but did not put up any family member in his place to contest from the Rampur Lok Sabha seat, which he had won in 2019. The loss from Rampur is by a far bigger margin, showing the absence of Khan from the political scene for the past two years, his family’s uneasiness with Akhilesh over the lack of support and Akhilesh’s absence from the campaign.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would see this as public validation for its “bulldozer action” and “tough approach” against vandalism in Uttar Pradesh, with the opposition mostly outraging only on social media. The BJP-led NDA would also see these wins as reversal of momentum from the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when its tally came down to 64 seats out of 80, from 73 seats it won in 2014. The NDA’s Lok Sabha tally in UP now goes up to 66 seats, while the SP shrinks to just three seats.
The SP-led alliance had also claimed a revival in the state by winning 125 seats in this year’s assembly elections in UP, while the NDA’s tally reduced from 325 seats in 2014 to 273 seats, nevertheless still a comfortable win in the state. The Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha bypoll wins are also a sweet revenge for Adityanath for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypoll losses to the SP five years ago. The BJP had then shockingly lost these Lok Sabha seats held by Yogi and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya soon after it came to power in the state.
The BJP would now cite the two Lok Sabha bypoll wins as proof that the SP’s so-called revival was a flash in the pan and the BJP remains extremely strong in Uttar Pradesh under CM Yogi Adityanath.
Also, it should be noted that the SP had won the Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in 2019 in an alliance with the BSP. This time, the BSP contested separately and its candidate in Azamgarh, Shah Alam, polled nearly 30% of the votes hurting Samajwadi Party’s chances here. In Rampur, the BJP had a direct fight with the SP and its candidate Ghanshyam Lodhi has won.
BJP leader BL Santhosh said this was a “death knell to communal, divisive, minority appeasement politics and a mandate for politics of Vikas practiced by PM Modi ably assisted by CM Yogi”.
SANGRUR SHOCKER FOR AAP
After a clean sweep in Punjab just three months ago, the Sidhu Moose Wala murder seems to have dented Aam Aadmi Party’s influence over people in Punjab and the vote in Sangrur seems to be against the poor law and order situation in the state since AAP has come to power. The loss is a big humiliation for Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who held this Lok Sabha seat twice, winning even in 2019 when AAP was decimated in Punjab.
The AAP performed badly even in Dhuri assembly segment in Sangrur seat, the assembly seat won by Mann just three months ago. He got Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal to campaign in Sangrur by-poll and do road shows, but the damage had already been done.
AAP functionaries suspect that the Congress and BJP transferred their votes to SAD (Amritsar) chief and winning candidate, Simranjeet Singh Mann, leading to the shocking loss for AAP.
The loss comes as a wake-up call for the AAP in Punjab and shows an urgent need to address the law and order situation, which an inexperienced CM is struggling with. The perception of Mann being controlled from Delhi is also going against him.
The AAP, however, remains strong in Delhi, winning the Rajinder Nagar seat comfortably, which was vacated by Raghav Chadha.
BJP RETAINS GROUND IN TRIPURA, TMC HYPE FLOPS
Despite changing Chief Minister Biplab Deb last month and replacing him with Manik Saha, the BJP managed to retain three out of the four assembly seats that went to by-polls, a year ahead of the assembly polls in the state. These by-polls were seen as a sort of semi-finals ahead of the assembly elections and both the TMC and the Congress had bitterly attacked the BJP over the party changing its Chief Minister as a sign of its failure in handling the state of affairs in Tripura.
While the Congress could win one assembly seat, the TMC’s loud campaign in the state flopped despite high-profile visits by its leader Abhishek Banerjee. The TMC could secure just 2.8% of all votes in these four byelections, after a rather sub-par performance in the earlier civic elections in Tripura as well. The new CM Manik Saha won a bypoll to solidify his new chair. The BJP’s strategy of changing Chief Ministers in Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Karnataka, and now Tripura, seem to be proving correct by way of stopping damage before it happens.