National

SP delivers shocker in UP by-polls; RJD keeps Jehanabad

New Delhi: The chemistry that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had struck with the electorate of Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 state Assembly polls was trumped by the arithmetic of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) coming together for the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections, the results for which were announced on Wednesday.

In Bihar, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) retained the Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad Assembly seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party won the Bhabhua Assembly seat.

The results of Gorakhpur and Phulpur came as a shock to the BJP. Gorakhpur was vacated by Chief Minister Adityanath, who had been its representative since 1998; Phulpur fell vacant after his deputy, Keshav Prasad Maurya, quit it. Winning these was a prestige issue for the party.

In Lucknow, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav thanked 'bua' or aunt - BSP[s Mayawati - for her support and later drove down to her residence to express his gratitude. The two leaders discussed a grand alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, sources said.

Akhilesh Yadav said the defeats reflected the failure of the BJP governments, at the Centre and in UP, to fulfill their promises to farmers and youths.

The SPís win, with the support of the BSP, enthused those in Opposition ranks who have argued for an 'index of unity' as a template to challenge the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. It also led to congratulatory messages from Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Telangana Rashtra Samiti's K Chandrasekhar Rao, both of whom interpreted the result as a sign of the rise of regional parties for 2019.

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