The Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday wrested both Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh from the main opposition Samajwadi Party, prompting Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to assert that it reflected the outcome of the 2024 general elections in which the saffron party would win all 80 seats in the state.
BJP's Ghanshyam Lodhi defeated SP candidate Mohd Asim Raja by a comfortable margin of 42,192 votes in the direct contest in Rampur, a seat vacated by SP stalwart Azam Khan after being elected to the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
In the Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency, a seat previously held by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BJP's Dinesh Lal Yadav 'Nirahua' defeated SP candidate Dharmendra Yadav by a margin of 8,679 votes.
While Adityanath hailed the two victories as reflection of the 2024 general elections, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav termed the results 'murder of democracy'.
Both Rampur and Azamgarh seats were held by the Samajwadi Party in the 2019 polls.
An elated Adityanath said people have sent a message that they are not ready to accept 'dynastic' and 'casteist' parties, and those who incite communal tensions and are criminals.
"Today's victory has given this message very clearly in front of everyone that in 2024, the BJP is going to win 80 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh," he said at the BJP headquarters in Lucknow.
The priest-turned-politician said after winning more than two-third of the seats in the last assembly elections and securing a thumping majority in the legislative council elections, the BJP has now also won the by-elections to the two Lok Sabha seats.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav accused the ruling party of deceit and misusing state machinery in the polls.
'The chronology of 'murder of democracy' in BJP rule: conspiracy to reject nominations, suppress candidates, misuse machinery to prevent (voters from) voting, irregularities in counting, pressure on public representatives and toppling of elected governments. This is the bitter truth about 'Azadi ke Amrit Kaal',' he said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
'This victory of the BJP is the victory of dishonesty, deceit, disregard for democracy and constitution, coercion, hooliganism by the administration, the 'Dhritarashtra' vision of the Election Commission, and hijacking of the public mandate by BJP's 'Kaurav' army. Democracy is bleeding and the public mandate lost,' he added.
Though the outcome of the bypolls in the politically significant state will not make much of a difference in the numerical strength of the parties in the Lok Sabha, the fall of bastions of SP is considered important from the point of view of the 2024 general elections.
The BJP already has 62 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.
The bypoll victory has increased the party's tally to 64, while the count of Akhilesh Yadav's party has come down to three from five.
The BJP's victory in the SP bastions also shows the saffron party's growing popularity after a comfortable victory in the February-March state polls.
For the main opposition party, the result reflects its losing grip over Muslims and Yadavs, the citadel of their 'MY' support base.
Commenting on the election results, SP's Azam Khan alleged misuse of official machinery in the polls and challenged that he would leave politics if any international agency conducts the polls and his party candidate gets defeated.
"Let elections be conducted honestly. I say the International Court of Justice should come and conduct elections here. If my candidate gets defeated then, I will leave politics," he told reporters.
In Azamgarh, SP candidate Dharmendra Yadav got into an argument with security personnel during counting of votes over alleged denial of entry in the strongroom.
He alleged that an attempt was made to change EVMs and that is why he was not allowed entry inside. He, however, was later allowed in.
The two constituencies voted on June 23, with Azamgarh recording a turnout of 49.43 per cent and Rampur 41.39 per cent.
While chief minister Adityanath actively campaigned in both Azamgarh and Rampur, Akhilesh Yadav did not campaign in the bypolls.
During the campaigning in Azamgarh, Adityanath had asked the people not to miss the opportunity for making 'Azamgarh as Aryamgarh', dropping a hint of changing the name of the district falling in Purvanchal.
Hindu organisations have been raising this demand consistently and the matter has been brought to the notice of Adityanath time and again.
Azamgarh was known as Aryamgarh during the Mughal period when its name was changed to Azamgarh, they said.
BJP leader Nirahua dedicated his victory in Azamgarh to the people of the constituency.
'It is the victory of people. Residents of Azamgarh have done wonderful work. The way you all gave me support, affection and blessings... this victory is yours. I dedicate this victory to your trust and the hardwork of party workers who are like God to me,' he said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, SPs' Dharmendra Yadav blamed the 'alliance' between the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party for his defeat in the bye-election.
"As far as the defeat (in the bypoll) is concerned, I will congratulate the alliance between the BJP and the BSP for my defeat, which has become evident in the presidential election. A number of conspiracies was hatched by the BSP, BJP, the UP government and the Centre," he told reporters.