Samajwadi Party supporters celebrate their lead in Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-poll election, in Allahabad on Wednesday.(PTI)
Samajwadi Party supporters celebrate their lead in Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-poll election, in Allahabad on Wednesday.(PTI)

SP acknowledges BSP role in Phulpur, Gorakhpur bypolls; Rahul, Mamata take on BJP

The results in Gorakhpur and Phulpur are likely to bolster talks of Opposition unity ahead of the 2019 general elections.
By Agencies | New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 14, 2018 06:07 PM IST

The Samajwadi Party (SP) acknowledged on Wednesday the role played by Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh’s Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bypolls but took a cautious approach on whether the two parties will forge an alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

At a time when there are talks of a strong united front against the BJP — which has been on an election-winning spree since the 2014 general elections — prominent faces of the Opposition congratulated both the SP and the BSP, and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) that was set to win the Araria Lok Sabha seat in Bihar.

“Wait and watch,” Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said when asked if his party and the BSP would come together in 2019. (Catch LIVE updates here)

“BSP workers have backed us, they worked hard. They have contributed well. We express our thanks to the leaders and workers of BSP,” Yadav said.

Arch-rival BSP decided to back Samajwadi Party nominees in Phulpur and Gorakhpur against the BJP, which held both the seats.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has been unsparing in his attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the Centre, said the BJP’s performance in the three Lok Sabha by-elections in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar prove the “electorate is very angry against the BJP and will vote for the non-BJP candidate most likely to win”.

“Congratulations to the winning candidates in today’s by-election,” Gandhi tweeted. “The Congress will look forward to ‘Navnirman’ in Uttar Pradesh, it won’t happen overnight.”

Taking a veiled dig at the BJP, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee, another key face in the Opposition camp, congratulated BSP’s Mayawati and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on Twitter, saying the “beginning of the end has started (sic)”.

The West Bengal chief minister also congratulated RJD chief Prasad for his party’s showing in the Araria Lok Sabha and Jehanabad assembly bypolls in Bihar.

“Together We are fighting. we shall fight & We will Win (sic),” Prasad replied, thanking Banerjee in his tweet.

CPI(M) MP Mohammed Salim welcomed the outcome of the bypolls and said it will have an impact on next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

“The SP and BSP coming together has helped the voters express their anger against the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre. The result is an indicator and it will have its impact in 2019. Both the SP and the BSP had age-old differences between them, but they were kept aside for the sake of democracy and to defeat the BJP and its anti-people policies,” he told PTI.

CPI leader D Raja said the results showed that the BJP was not invincible.

“These (bypoll) results would have an impact on the thinking of all the secular, democratic parties so that they evolve a proper electoral tactic, keeping in view the objective of defeating the BJP,” he said.

Leaders of 20 opposition parties on Tuesday laid the groundwork for a broader strategy to tackle the ruling BJP in Parliament and in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at a dinner hosted at her residence by United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

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