SP wins Ghosi bypoll

| | Lucknow
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SP wins Ghosi bypoll

Saturday, 09 September 2023 | PNS | Lucknow

In a major setback to Bharatiya Janata Party, Samajwadi Party candidate Sudhakar Singh on Friday defeated his ruling party rival Dara Singh Chauhan in the Ghosi assembly bypoll with a margin of 42,759 votes, an official said.

The SP retained the seat with Singh polling 1,24,427 votes. Chauhan got 81,668 votes, according to the Election Commission of India.

In the 2022 UP assembly elections, Dara Singh Chauhan had won the Ghosi seat as SP candidate. He resigned from the SP and the membership of state assembly in July this year and joined the BJP.

The victory of the SP candidate came as a shot in the arm for the opposition INDIA bloc and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.

The Ghosi bypoll was a direct contest between the INDIA bloc and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The Congress did not field its candidate and supported the SP candidate. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party did not contest the bypoll, maintaining its position of officially staying away from both NDA and INDIA bloc.

“Ghosi did not just make the SP candidate victorious but also the INDIA bloc and this is going to be the result in the future. The bypoll was not an ordinary assembly election but a message for the 2024 Lok Sabha election,” SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, adding that UP would once again lead the charge for change of power at the Centre.

“This is a victory of positive politics and the defeat of communal, negative politics. The Ghosi bypoll result reflects the success of the party’s new formula against the BJP – Team INDIA aur PDA (Pichhada Dalit Alpsankhyak) rajneeti,” he said.

Shivpal Singh Yadav said in a tweet on X: “SP zindabad, Akhilesh Yadav zindabad.”

Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar, an ally of the NDA, said, “We welcome the people’s mandate. Whenever the opposition party loses the election they question the validity of the electronic voting machines (EVMs), the (Ghosi) poll results have proved that there is nothing wrong with the voting machine.”

The Ghosi bypoll was held after Chauhan, who was the sitting SP MLA, resigned his seat and party in July and returned to the BJP fold. With the return of Other Backward Classes leaders Chauhan and Om Prakash Rajbhar to its fold after a short stint with the SP, the BJP had received a huge boost as it prepared for the general elections. However, the defeat in Ghosi, where not just Rajbhar but over a dozen ministers in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet, including the chief minister himself, extensively campaigned for Chauhan, is a big setback for the ruling party.

Sudhakar Singh, who won from Ghosi in 1996 and 2012, had stood third in 2017. A Kshatriya by caste, he managed to defeat Chauhan in this bypoll despite heavy mobilisation of caste leaders in particular OBCs by the BJP.

Chauhan was a cabinet minister in the Yogi Adityanath government from 2017 to 2022 before resigning just weeks ahead of the assembly election to join the SP. Chauhan belongs to the Noniya Chauhan backward caste. Traditionally engaged in salt trading, the community is also known by other names such as Loniya-Chauhan and Gole-Thakur, and considers Prithviraj Chauhan among its icons.

The defeat of the ruling party in Ghosi reflects poorly on Om Prakash Rajbhar, who recently returned to the BJP fold and actively campaigned in the constituency which has a substantial number of voters of the Rajbhar community, an OBC caste. By ensuring a BJP win, he could have demonstrated his indispensability.

On the other hand, this election also marks the return to active campaigning of Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, who launched aggressive electioneering and camped in the constituency during the election.

In the Ghosi bypoll, several BJP ministers, including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brijesh Pathak, as well as ruling party allies Sanjay Nishad, Ashish Patel and Om Prakash Rajbhar had campaigned for Chauhan. The party had deployed Danish Azad, its Muslim face, to reach out to Muslim voters in the constituency.

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