In a major political realignment a year before General Elections, the Mayawati-led BSP has decided to back the Samajwadi Party in bypolls to Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the Lok Sabha seats vacated by Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, respectively.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will make an official announcement soon, but party sources said the decision was taken after a marathon meeting at Mayawati’s residence on Thursday.
The move marks a fresh attempt to form an anti-BJP alliance in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
It also marks a break from tradition for the BSP, which has never contested bypolls when in opposition. However, its absence in the recent Madhya Pradesh Assembly bypolls seems to have benefitted the BJP, with the Congress’ victory margin going down. Mayawati’s announcement of support to the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP may prevent a division of its vote bank.
However, the Congress, which allied with the SP for Assembly elections last year, has announced its own candidates on the two seats.
In Gorakhpur — a seat represented by Yogi Adityanath for five consecutive terms — the Samajwadi Party has fielded Praveen Kumar Nishad, the son of Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad, as its candidate. Nishad will take on the BJP’s Upendra Shukla and Congress leader Surhita Chatterjee Karim.
In Phulphur, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Nagendra Singh Patel, an OBC leader. Patel will contest against BJP candidate and fellow OBC leader Kaushlendra Singh Patel, who has also been Varanasi mayor. The Congress has fielded Manish Mishra for this seat.
Voting for both bypolls will be held on March 11, while counting of votes will be held on March 14.