Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav arrives at the residence of BSP Chief Mayawati in Lucknow. #UPByPolls pic.twitter.com/V94qRnMNsq — ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 14, 2018
In a major blow to the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, backed by its otherwise bitter foe BSP, wrested the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, vacated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
Samajwadi Party candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel defeated his nearest Bharatiya Janata Party rival Kaushlendra Singh Patel by 59,613 votes, leading to noisy celebrations and calls for opposition unity across the nation to defeat the BJP in next year's Lok Sabha battle.
The results were announced after 31 rounds of counting.
The Bahujan Samaj Party had extended support to the Samajwadi Party in a bid to avoid a split in opposition vote.
Amid beating of drums and distribution of sweets, the victorious Nagendra Patel not only thanked the people of Phulpur for his victory but said he also had the blessings of 'behenji' Mayawati along with his own leader Akhilesh Yadav.
Mafia don-turned-politician Ateeq Ahmad, contesting as an Independent from inside the jail, won 33,818 votes in Phulpur while Manish Mishra (Congress) got 11,934 votes.
As the vote count moved towards the final rounds, Samajwadi Party's Praveen Nishad had secured 334,463 votes in Gorakhpur, with the BJP's Upendra Dutt Shukla at the second spot with 308,593 votes. One official said Nishad had won.
The setback comes as a huge shocker to the year-old BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, where Adityanath has represented Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha seat for five consecutive times.
Both the Lok Sabha constituencies voted on Sunday.
"This is a rejection of both (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and Yogi (Adityanath)," Samajwadi Party spokesman Anurag Bhaudauria told IANS.