Uttar Pradesh by-elections: BSP , Samajwadi Party
Gorakhpur, Phulpur by-elections: The upcoming by-elections in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Phulpur are significant for a number of reasons. On one hand, it would serve as a test case for future alliance between arch rivals Bahujan Samaj Party BSP and Samajwadi Party, which is also one of the most keenly watched experiment ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019. On the other, it is a battle of prestige for BJP as both seats were earlier held by current UP Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister.
SP and BSP have so far refrained from coming together on one stage in both constituencies. The leaders, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, too have avoided taking each other’s name. However, situation on the ground is different.
The Indian Express reported today that BSP Phulpur unit has decided to run a door-to-door campaign and appeal their supporters to vote for the SP candidate. On the other hand, SP is also keen to get the BSP’s votes. Both the parties have already started uniting their vote bank which comprises Dalits, Yadavs and Muslims. While Gorakhpur is a BJP bastion, Phulpur has seen constant shift of power. Once a SP stronghold, particularly due to presence of strongman Atiq Ahmed, it voted to power BSP in 2009 and BJP in 2014.
However, Gorakhpur too, may not be a cakewalk for the BJP this time. The party has fielded Upendra Shukla as its candidate, the first Brahmin face from the party in this constituency in past 30 years. Since 1989, Adityanath and his guru, Mahant Advaithnath, both Thakurs, won the seat for eight consecutive terms.
Reports say Adityanath was always skeptical about non-Thakurs, especially Brahmin candidates fighting legislative elections from this constituency. Shukla too shares a bitter past with Adityanath. In 2006, Shukla was one of the probables for legislative elections here. However, his candidature was opposed by Adityanath. An audacious Shukla stood as an independent candidate here, resulting in a split of votes and victory of SP candidate.
BJP Gorakhpur Lok Sabha candidate was seen as belonging to the person who may carry forward Adityanath’s legacy. However, that didn’t happen with Shukla’s name.
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has started campaigning in Gorakhpur. Yadav recently held a rally here and thanked all the parties supporting SP candidate. Without taking Mayawati’s name, Yadav said that BSP has also come up to support SP candidate. The stage, from where Yadav delivered his speech, displayed photos of Bhim Rao Ambedkar and socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohiaon the banner. A large chunk of BSP supporters also attended Yadav’s rally