New Delhi: The BJP demolished two Samajwadi Party bastions on Sunday by wresting the Rampur and Azamgarh parliamentary seats.
In Punjab, AAP suffered a setback as Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann emerged victorious in the Sangrur Lok Sabha by-poll.
In UP, the BJP won both seats in the by-elections.
Rampur and Azamgarh have been considered as SP strongholds and this, being the first by elections after the March assembly elections, is a major blow to the party leadership.
Rampur and Azamgarh are the constituencies of SP’s two tallest leaders—Akhilesh Yadav and Mohd Azam Khan.
Azamgarh was earlier held by SP president Akhilesh Yadav and he had resigned after winning the assembly polls in March.
However, he did not campaign in Azamgarh and this raised several questions in political circles even though Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav was the SP candidate.
He had also not allowed his estranged uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav to campaign in Azamgarh.
In Azamgarh, the BSP successfully engineered SP’s defeat by fielding a Muslim candidate, Guddu Jamali, who walked away with over two lakh votes and allowed BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua to walk home victorious.
BJP’s Ghanshyam Lodhi won the Rampur seat with a margin of over 40,000 votes, defeating Asim Raja of Samajwadi Party. The BJP got 52 per cent votes while SP had to remain content with 46 per cent votes.
The SP defeat in Rampur is a personal setback for senior SP MLA Mohd Azam Khan who had worked relentlessly for the by-elections.
“This is a victory that has been converted into defeat. People were not allowed to vote and I repeatedly said this on the polling day,” he said.
The twin defeats are now indicative of Akhilesh Yadav’s loosening grip on his vote bank since both the constituencies have a sizeable Muslim population.