SP retains Ghosi amid INDIA vs NDA clamour
The bypoll was necessitated by Dara Singh Chauhan quitting as SP MLA and rejoining the BJP in July this year
The Samajwadi Party (SP) on Friday retained the Ghosi assembly seat in Mau district as its candidate Sudhakar Singh defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Dara Singh Chauhan by a margin of 42,759 votes. Amid various claims, it remains to be analysed whether this win can be seen in terms of the larger INDIA bloc vs NDA battle in Uttar Pradesh in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Samajwadi Party is a constituent of the INDIA bloc.
The bypoll was necessitated by Dara Singh Chauhan quitting as SP MLA and rejoining the BJP in July this year and the party-hopper tag appeared to have stuck to him. The BJP was hopeful of snatching the seat from the SP as the ruling party expected that the caste dynamics might work in its favour.
Mid-way through the campaign, the BJP realised that its candidate’s shifting loyalties had emerged as a problem. Within a matter of 14 months, Dara Singh Chauhan quit his ministership in the BJP government in December 2022, joined the SP and won the Ghosi seat in 2022 assembly polls. Then, in July this year, he quit as Ghosi MLA and rejoined the BJP.
The bypoll results have no bearing on the BJP government, which enjoys a comfortable majority in the 403-member state legislative assembly.
“Ghosi has not only made the SP candidate win but, it is also the victory of the INDIA coalition candidate. And now this will be the outcome of the approaching tomorrow (2024)...Bharat has begun making INDIA win...U.P. will once again lead the change in power,” Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said.
Reacting to the Ghosi result, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Bhupendra Chaudhary said, “Will the opposition now raise a question on EVM, government machinery, and the Election Commission? As a political party, we will review the results and make a forward plan to serve the people of Ghosi.”
The Ghosi assembly seat has not been a stronghold of any party. Only the CPI won the seat thrice in a row between 1957 and 1967. Ever since regional politics came into prominence in the state in 1990s, the BJP won it four times, the BSP twice, and the SP/Janata Dal thrice.
INDIA’s national coalition partners extended support to the SP candidate this time. They included Rashtriya Lok Dal (a long-standing SP partner), Congress, Apna Dal (K), Janata Dal (United), CPI, CPI-M, CPI-L, and Aam Admi Party (AAP). The BJP candidate was supported by the NDA partners in U.P. -- Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), NISHAD party, and Apna Dal (S). A splinter group of SBSP, the Suheldev Swabhimaan Party (SSP), supported the SP.
Those who canvassed for Chauhan included Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak and leaders of BJP-led NDA, including nearly 15 U.P. and central ministers. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his uncles Shivpal Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav were among the main campaigners for Singh.
In all, there were 10 candidates in the fray in Ghosi, but only two from the mainstream parties. The Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati did not field any candidate in the constituency in the state’s Puravanchal region (eastern Uttar Pradesh).
While seeking support for Chauhan, Adityanath had said only those who witnessed the 2005 Mau riots could understand the importance of Ghosi. “At that time, the SP was in power and it could not do anything. Now, those who instigated the riots are seen begging for their lives in a wheelchair,” he had said in an apparent reference to gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, a five-time MLA from Mau.
During the polls, both the parties had petitioned the Election Commission, accusing the rivals of engaging in malpractices.
During the campaign for the bypoll on August 20, a youth threw ink at Chauhan -- a prominent OBC leader. The incident occurred when he was being welcomed by BJP supporters at Adri Chatti after attending a public meeting in Kopaganj block.
LOYALIST VS. PARTY HOPPER
On Tuesday (September 5), the Ghosi assembly constituency voters exercised their franchise to elect their legislators for the seventh time since 2012.
Since 2012, voters in Ghosi have voted in three assembly general elections, two Lok Sabha general elections, and two assembly bypolls. The previous assembly bypoll was held in 2019 when the then BJP MLA Phagu Chauhan was made Bihar governor.
Both SP national president Akhilesh Yadav, the other SP campaigners and party candidate Sudhakar Singh held the BJP and Dara Singh Chauhan responsible for “forcing elections on the people of the constituency”.
While Chauhan has changed camps from Bahujan Samaj Party to the BJP, then to the SP, and then back to the BJP, the SP candidate was projected as a loyalist to the Ghosi and the SP.
Chauhan was a minister in the previous BJP government. He resigned on January 12 last year and joined the SP. The OBC leader resigned from the SP and returned to the BJP in July.
Ghosi assembly constituency has 4.4 lakh voters, including 1.5 lakh Other Backward Classes (OBC) who comprise 60,000 Rajbhars; 40,000 Chauhans; and 40,000 Yadavs. The second biggest group of voters is Muslims--roughly 90,000. And a sizable Dalits roughly 60,000. The constituency has roughly 77,000 upper-caste Hindus (45,000 Bhumihars, 16,000 Rajputs, and 6,000 Brahmins).
The SP fielded Sudhakar Singh, a Rajput, and the party attempted to make it a Rajput+PDA (Pichada, Dalit, Alpankhyak--backwards, Dalits, and Muslims) fight against Dara Singh Chauhan, an OBC leader
With roughly 90,000 voters, the Muslims form the second biggest voter group in the Ghosi assembly constituency and because the BSP did not contest, the SP was confident of getting the Muslim support en bloc. But not taking the contest lightly, the SP inducted the Mukhtar Ansari family into the poll campaign. SP MLA from Mohammadabad (Ghazipur) Shuhaib Ansari, the nephew of Mukhtar Ansari and the son of SP leader and former MLA Sigbatullah Ansari, campaigned in the Muslim-dominated areas of Ghosi. The Ansaris are considered to hold immense influence on Muslim voters in the Mau-Ghazipur region.
The Dalit votes—roughly 60,000—were considered crucial with BSP not in the fray. In 2022, the Dalit votes had split between the SP, BJP, and the BSP candidate Wasim Iqbal could not get much of the Muslim or Dalit support and ended up third on the tally. Both the BJP and SP deployed their Dalit outfits to campaign in Ghosi. The poll outcome in favour of Sudhakar Singh indicates that many Dalit voters supported him.
BLOW TO CHAUHAN AND OP RAJBHAR
Dara Singh Chauhan won the 2022 assembly polls as the SP candidate by bagging 1,08,430 votes. With 14 months into the tenure and nearly four years of the tenure as an MLA remaining, he resigned from the membership of the assembly and joined the BJP camp in the hope that he will regain the seat in bypoll. Just like Chauhan, Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar snapped ties with the SP as an alliance partner soon after the 2022 UP assembly polls. He joined the NDA in July.
Rajbhar, who claims to have influence over his community voters in eastern UP, now faces embarrassment as he had claimed the SBSP made the SP win the seat in 2022 and will now make the BJP secure it.
Both Dara Singh Chauhan and Sudhakar Singh have been Ghosi MLAs once. Sudhakar won the seat in 2012 and Chauhan in 2022. In the bypoll results on Friday, Sudhakar took the lead in the very first round and maintained it till the last round. Sudhakar bagged 1,24,427 votes against Dara Singh Chauhan’s 81,668 votes. Sudhakar’s victory margin was 42,759. Dara Singh Chahuan had bagged 1,08,430 votes in 2022 but could get 81,668 votes this time.
The voters’ turnout in 2022 was 58.59% while this time it was 50.30%.
Peace Party’s Sanaullah finished third with a mere 2,570 votes.
A total of 1,725 votes were for NOTA. There were a total of 33 rounds of counting.