While the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party continued to hold sway in Uttar Pradesh as it swept the Assembly by-elections in the State by winning nine of the 11 seats where polling was held on November 7, the Congress turned the tables on the Samajwadi Party in the lone Lok Sabha bypoll in Firozabad.
Two other Assembly seats were won by the Congress and an Independent candidate respectively. The Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party were stamped out as they failed to open their account.
The Firozabad Lok Sabha by-poll was won by Raj Babbar of Congress, who trounced his nearest rival and the SP chief, Mulayam Singh’s daughter-in-law, Dimple Yadav by a margin of 85,043 votes. S. P. Singh Baghel of BSP was placed third. The final tally: Mr. Babbar – 312428, Ms. Yadav – 227385 and Mr. Baghel – 213571.
The BSP’s victory in the by-polls was recorded in Rari, Jhansi, Isauli, Hainsar Bazar, Lalitpur, Bhartana, Padrauna, Powayan ( Reserved ) and Etawah. Kol Asla was won by an Independent, Ajai Rai, formerly of the BJP who contested the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi on a SP ticket. In Lucknow West, the Congress wrested the seat from the BJP. The Congress victory in Lucknow West was posted after a long gap of 25 years; it had last won the seat in 1985.
The Assembly by-poll results clearly underlined the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati’s eminence as the numero uno politician in the State. But, more than the grossly one-sided victory of the BSP, the UP by-elections would be remembered for the huge setback suffered by the Samajwadi Party supremo, Mulayam Singh, both on the political and personal fronts. His daughter-in-law, was defeated by actor-politician, Mr. Babbar in Firozabad where the Yadav clan had staked its prestige.
Apart from having failed to win a single Assembly seat, two Samajwadi strongholds, Bhartana ( the seat was vacated by Mr. Singh after his election to Lok Sabha ) and Etawah also slipped out of the party’s grip. To add insult to injury, both the erstwhile bastions were won the BSP.
Interestingly, the SP lost both Bhartana Assembly and Firozabad Lok Sabha seat, which were vacated by Mr. Singh and his son, Akhilesh Yadav after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
The SP chief had clearly focused on Firozabad where former Samajwadi, Mr. Babbar was pitted against his daughter-in-law. By fielding Ms. Yadav, the SP president indicated that he wanted to keep the seat in the family. To take his objective to its logical conclusion, the SP chief banked on the support of the Yadavs and Lodhs and the charisma of film stars.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief, Ajit Singh’s son , Jayant Chaudhary was roped in to campaign for the SP candidate. But, neither worked to the SP’s advantage in Firozabad.
According to political observers, Mulayam’s emphasis on familial ties and the personal attacks on Mr. Babbar (he was reportedly called a “ghaddar” (traitor) by his poll rivals) proved counter-productive for the SP.
In the Assembly bypolls, the SP was placed third in Powayan, Isauli, Hainsar Bazar, fourth in Lucknow West and Jhansi, and second in Etawah, Bhartana, Rari and Lalitpur.
BJP’s poor performance in the by-elections underlined its rapid decline in Uttar Pradesh. Barring Lucknow West and Jhansi, the BJP candidates lost their deposits in the other constituencies, including Firozabad. The saffron party paid a heavy price for the infighting in Lucknow West where Amit Puri was made the proverbial sacrificial goat. The BJP had lost its stronghold of the last 20 years where Shyam Kishore Shukla of the Congress was voted to victory.
The latest party positions in the Assembly (after the by-poll results) are: BSP - 227; SP - 87; BJP - 48; Congress – 20.