In a jolt for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh, none of the candidates backed by it won in Cantonment Board polls in Varanasi and Lucknow. The party won only one of eight seats in Agra, with independent candidates bagging the rest.
In Lucknow, union home minister Rajnath Singh's constituency, independents bagged all eight seats. The BJP had supported candidates in seven seats.
Similar was the case in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where all seven seats were won by independents.
This was the first time the BJP supported or fielded candidates in polls to Cantonment Boards. No other political party had backed candidates.
“Residents of Lucknow Cantonment have rejected the communal BJP and chosen independent candidates,” said Ratan Singhania, a former chairman of Lucknow Cantonment Board whose wife Reena Singhania was elected as an independent candidate.
Singhania said none of the BJP-backed candidates won despite top party leaders like Pankaj Singh and MLC Mahendra Singh campaigning for them.
In Lucknow, all the BJP candidates contested on a common symbol – scissors – in the polls. In Varanasi they had different symbols and candidates in Agra contested on the party’s symbol, the lotus.
The BJP has been making a concerted push to strengthen its position in Uttar Pradesh, where assembly elections are due in 2017. The party was buoyed after it won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in last year’s general election.
Commenting on the party’s poor performance in the elections, state BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai claimed the candidates lost as they were not given the official party symbol. Lucknow mayor and BJP vice president Dinesh Sharma echoed a similar opinion.
UP cabinet minister and Samajwadi Party leader Ambika Chowdhury said the results had proved the hollowness of the BJP’s claims. “The BJP made tall claims but could not come up to the expectations of the people,” he said.
“In the UP assembly by-elections soon after Modi swept to power at the Centre, the BJP lost nine of 11 seats. Now it will taste more defeats in the days to come in all elections, at least in UP. People have understood the reality.”
Lucknow: (eight seats) Jagdish Prasad, Pramod Sharma, Rupa Devi, Swati Yadav, Amit Kumar Shukla, Anjum Aara, Sanjay Kumar Vaish and Reena Singhania – all independents.
Varanasi: (seven seats) Sangita, Shailendra Singh, Rajkumar, Masooda Hussain, Chandra Keshav, Shahnawaz Ali and Shailja Srivastava – all independents.
Agra: (eight seats) Rajkumari, Renu Mahendru, Vijaylakshmi, Pankaj Mahendru, Tariq Ahmed, Seema Rajput, Durgesh Upadhyay and BJP candidate Dilip Kanojia.
(With PTI inputs)