Big guns come off with flying colours
The results of around half a dozen seats were out even before the votes were cast. With big guns like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Sawajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav seeking election, the outcome there was very much predictable.
Apparently, the fight in these high-profile constituencies was not only for victory but also for the winning margins that the candidates and their supporters were bent on increasing over the previous ones as a matter of prestige.
In Varanasi, BJP candidate Narendra Modi came off with flying colours outdoing his 2014 performance. He won by a bigger margin of 4,79,505 votes by polling 6,67,664 of the total 10,60,476 votes. He defeated SP’s Shalini Yadav who got 1,95,159 votes.
In 2014 Modi won by a margin of 371,785 (56.37%) votes defeating his closest rival and AAP candidate Arvind Kejriwal. Modi had got 5,81,023 votes against 2,09,238 votes received by Kejriwal.
In 2009 elections, BJP’s MM Joshi polled 2,03,122 votes (30.52%) defeating BSP’s Mukhtar Ansari by a slender margin of 17,211 votes. The victory margin in Varanasi this time further grew not only because people probably took pride in re-electing their PM but also because Modi faced weaker rivals unlike in 2014 when he took on Kejriwal, whose popularity was then at its peak.
In Lucknow, Rajnath Singh also registered a spectacular victory with a margin that was even bigger than what it was in 2014. This time he got 6,33,026 votes defeating his nearest rival and SP candidate Poonam Sinha by a margin of more than 3,47,302 lakh votes. Sinha polled 2,85,724 votes. Last time, Singh polled 5,61,106 votes, which was 54.23% of the total votes cast. He had then defeated Congress candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi by a margin of 2,72,749 votes. In 2009, BJP’s Lalji Tandon and now Bihar governor won by a margin of 40,901 votes defeating Congress’s Rita Bahuguna.
Like Modi, Rajnath Singh too virtually had no fight in Lucknow with the opposition having fielded seemingly weak candidates. Also, Singh’s popularity among a sizeable number of Muslim voters, apart from other common factors, is understood to have increased the winning margin for him this time.
In Rae Bareli, Sonia Gandhi, did win but her victory margin was reduced considerably. She polled 3,55,192 votes defeating her closest rival and BJP candidate Dinesh Pratap Singh by a margin of 1,67,178 votes which is probably her lowest-ever winning margin so far. Singh who left the Congress to join the BJP a year ago got 2,49,202 votes. Gandhi’s supporters had coined the phrase ‘Abki bar, 5 lakh ke par.’
In 2014 she secured 5,26,434 (63.80%) votes defeating BJP’s Ajay Agrawal by a huge margin of 3,52,713 votes. In 2009, she won by even a bigger margin 3,72,164 (72.23%) votes. She had then polled 4,81,490 votes defeating BSP’s RS Kushwaha.
However, Rahul Gandhi could not save his family bastion in Amethi, leave alone increasing the victory margin. This came as a surprise to many who believed that the winning margin might further plummet this time but Rahul would retain the seat. He lost to BJP’s Smriti Irani by a margin of more than 55,000 votes and conceded defeat well before the official announcement of the result.
In 2014 he polled 4,08,651 (46.71 %) votes defeating Irani by a margin of 1,07,903 votes. The margin, was, however, lower than what it was in 2009 when he defeated BSP’s Ashish Shukla by a margin of 3,70,198 votes by securing 4,64,195 (71.78%) votes.
Smriti Irani, who stayed put in Amethi, and kept on frequently visiting the constituency even after her defeat in 2014, posed a serious challenge to Rahul Gandhi in the Congress pocket borough.
Former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav won by a margin of over 94,000 in Mainpuri, a Yadav dominant seat. He defeated BJP’s Prem Singh Shakya.
But the margin was lower though many believed it might be all-time high due to the SP-BSP having come together. Even BSP chief Mayawati campaigned for him but it did not work as far as the victory margin is concerned. In 2014 Yadav won by margin of 3,64,666 (59.63%) votes even during the Modi wave. He defeated BJP’s Shartrughan Singh by polling 5,95,918 votes. In 2009, he secured 3,92,308 votes (56.44%) defeating BSP’s Vinay Shakya by a margin of 1,73,069 votes.
From Azamgarh, his second seat, Mulayam had secured 3,40,306 (35.43%) votes in 2014 elections defeating BJP’s Rama Kant Yadav by a margin of 63,204 votes. In 2009, BJP’s Rama Kant Yadav got 2,47,648 (35.13%) votes defeating SP’s Akbar Ahmad Dumpy by a margin of 49,042 votes.
This time, Mulayam’s son and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav was trying his luck on this Yadav- Muslim dominated seat. He won by a bigger margin of over 2.59 lakh lakh votes. The margin is bigger than that of his father. BJP candidate and Bhohpuri singer Dinesh Lal Yadav popularly known as ‘Nirahua’ could not pose any serious challenge to the former CM contrary to the ground reports.
Another noted Bhojpuri singer and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan, however, won the prestigious Gorakhpur seat by a huge margin of more than 3 lakh lakh votes.