The quantum leap in the victory margin of Samajwadi Party candidate Sudhakar Singh in the Ghosi bypoll in Uttar Pradesh is being seen as a rejection of "Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram" politics by the voters.
Singh defeated Bharatiya Janata Party's Dara Singh Chauhan in the bypoll to the Ghosi Assembly constituency in Mau district with a margin of 42,759 votes on Friday.
In last year's Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Chauhan (then with the SP) defeated BJP's Vijay Kumar Rajbhar by a margin of 22,216 votes.
Backed by other constituents of the INDIA opposition bloc, the SP retained the seat, with Singh garnering 1,24,427 votes (57.19 per cent), while Chauhan got 81,668 votes (37.54 per cent), according to the Election Commission.
Six of the 10 candidates in the poll fray got less votes than NOTA. Sanaullah of the Peace Party secured the third spot, bagging 2,570 votes, while Afroz Alam of the Jan Adhikar Party secured 2,100 votes.
NOTA (None of the Above) polled 1,725 votes.
The bypoll saw a 50.77 per cent voter turnout. In the 2022 Assembly election, the polling percentage was 58.59.
The bypoll was necessitated after Chauhan, an Other Backward Classes leader, quit the SP and joined the BJP.
Chauhan's defeat in the bypoll has also hurt the political prospects of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar as a positive result in the ruling NDA's favour would have strengthened his bargaining power with the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The voters were apparently angry over Chauhan switching his allegiance to the BJP.
"People have rejected these turncoats, who only change their political allegiance for their vested interests. The voters are aware of this," said Arvind Kumar Chauhan, a medical representative.
Social worker Arvind Kumar Rajbhar said, "A slogan was coined before the bypoll -- 'Bahari Bhagao, Ghosi Bachao' (drive away outsiders in order to save Ghosi). The voters have also completely rejected those indulging in 'Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram' politics and shown them the door. People want development."
Chauhan submitted his resignation to Assembly Speaker Satish Mahana on July 15. He was the forest and environment minister in the previous BJP government in the state headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, before he resigned from the Council of Ministers in January 2022 and joined the SP.
He had also represented the Ghosi parliamentary seat in the 15th Lok Sabha as a Bahujan Samaj Party member.
Chauhan was the BJP MLA from Madhuban in Mau from 2017 to 2022. He won the Ghosi Assembly seat in last year's Assembly polls on an SP ticket.
The phrase "Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram" was coined when Gaya Lal, an MLA from Hodal in Haryana, won the election as an independent candidate in 1967 and then joined the Congress.
Thereafter, he switched his allegiance thrice in a fortnight -- first from the Congress to the United Front, then back to the Congress and then back to the United Front again within nine hours.
When he quit the United Front and joined the Congress, Rao Birender Singh, then a leader of the grand old party who had engineered the defection, presented Gaya Lal before reporters at a press conference in Chandigarh and declared: "Gaya Ram is now Aaya Ram."
The BSP, which has neither aligned with the NDA nor the INDIA, did not contest the Ghosi bypoll. INDIA constituents Congress, CPI(M), CPI, RLD, AAP, CPI(ML)-Liberation and Suheldev Swabhiman Party had extended support to Singh.
Singh (64) represented the Ghosi constituency in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly from 2012 to 2017. Earlier, he had represented the Nathupur (Madhuban after delimitation) seat in the assembly.
He won from Nathupur in the 1996 Assembly polls. In the 2017 Assembly election, he lost to BJP's Fagu Chauhan.