election battle

Bye-poll results: Samajwadi Party deals blow to BJP – wins Phulpur, Gorakhpur

Counting is on for bye-polls at three Lok Sabha and two Assembly seats in UP and Bihar that were held on Sunday.

The Samajwadi Party with support from the Bahujan Samaj Party won the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha bye-poll seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Rashtriya Janata Dal won the Araria in Bihar.

Counting of votes in the bye-elections for five Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh began at 8 am on Wednesday. Bye-elections were held in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Araria Lok Sabha seats, and Jehanabad and Bhabua Assembly seats on Sunday.

In Araria, the voter turnout was 57% while Jehanabad and Bhabua saw 50% and 54% voting. In Gorakhpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, there was a voter turnout of 43% and in Phulpur, 37.4% of the electorate turned up to vote.

Tight security arrangements were in place ahead of counting in these constituencies.

The Gorakhpur seat was vacated after Adityanath became the chief minister in March 2017, and Phulpur because Keshav Prasad Maurya became his deputy. The bye-polls are significant as it will test the new arrangement between Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. The Congress contested on its own.

Bihar’s Araria Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the death of Rashtriya Janata Dal strongman Mohammed Taslimuddin. In the Jehanabad Assembly seat, bye-polls were necessitated by the death of RJD lawmaker Mundrika Singh Yadav, and the Bhabua Assembly seat fell vacant after the death of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Anand Bhushan Pandey.

Here are highlights from the day:

8.23 pm: Akhilesh Yadav says he is thankful for Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s support. He also visits her residence in Lucknow.

7.13 pm: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge criticises Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, ANI reported. “The chief minister thinks he is an avatar of God and his deputy thinks of himself as a descendant of ruler Chandragupta Maurya,” says Kharge. “This [the BJP’s defeat] is a result of such arrogance.”

6.44 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah congratulates the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party for their win in the Uttar Pradesh bye-polls. He attributes the victory to the unity among the Opposition parties. “The BJP has suffered a humiliating loss,” says Siddaramaiah.

6.29 pm: The Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Kumar Nishad wins the Gorakhpur bye-election by 21,881 votes, reports ANI.

6.27 pm: “If this is the anger of people in the areas of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister, you can imagine how angry people are in the rest of the country,” says Akhilesh Yadav. “The people did not see any of the “acche din” [good days] that were promised and united to bring bad days for the BJP.”

6.25 pm: Akhilesh Yadav criticises the ruling BJP’s divisive politics, says people are asking what the party has done for their welfare.

6.20 pm: SP chief Akhilesh Yadav addresses the media in Lucknow. He thanks the people of Gorakhpur and Phulpur, reports ANI.

6.07 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal wins Araria bye-poll by 61,988, ANI reported. The Rashtriya Janata Dal secured 5,09,334 votes while the Bharatiya Janata Party bagged 4,47,346 votes.

5.57 pm: Mahendra Nath Pandey, the BJP chief in Uttar Pradesh, blames the results on low polling percentages. “We will analyse and work on the places where we lacked and will work harder and perform better in the 2019 elections,” he adds.

5.35 pm: The BJP accepts the verdict of the people and it will review the shortcomings, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath tells ANI. He admits that the party did not expect these results.

5.31 pm: The Congress candidates from Phulpur and Gorakhpur have lost their deposits, reports ANI.

5.25 pm: The SP’s winning candidate in Phulpur, Nagendra Singh Patel, credits Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati for the victory.

5.03 pm: Samajwadi Party’s Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel declared the winner in the Phulpur bye-election, reports ANI. He defeated the BJP’s Kaushlendra Singh Patel by 59,613 votes.

5 pm: Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi tells ANI that the BJP will face similar defeats in the 2019 General Elections if it does not start working for the people.

4.53 pm: The Samajwadi Party’s lead over the BJP in Phulpur has extended to 57,148 votes after the 31st round of counting, reports ANI.

4.47 pm: The RJD’s Sarfaraz Alam is leading the BJP’s Pradeep Kumar Singh by 57,791 votes in Araria after 22 rounds of counting, reports ANI.

4.44 pm: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav thanks the people of Bihar and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitam Ram Manjhi, who joined the RJD-led grand alliance in February, reports ANI. He also mentions his father Lalu Prasad Yadav. “I want to tell those people who say Lalu ji’s days are over that Lalu Prasad Yadav is an ideology.”

4.35 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi congratulates the victorious candidates. “It is clear from the results that voters are angry with the BJP and they will vote for the non-BJP candidate who has strongest chance of winning,” he tweets. “The Congress is committed to rebuilding the party in Uttar Pradesh, but it will not happen overnight.”

4.30 pm: Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav says BSP workers also contributed to his party’s stellar performance in the bye-elections. “We thank them and their leadership,” he tells NDTV.

4.20 pm: The SP is leading the BJP by 22,954 votes in Gorakhpur, reports ANI.

4.18 pm: In Phulpur, Samajwadi Party’s Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel is ahead of BJP candidate Kaushlendra Singh Patel by 47,351 votes after the 28th round of counting, reports ANI.

4.15 pm: “It is obviously not a satisfactory result,” Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh tells NDTV. “But one thing is certain, the SP was about to lose and the BSP’s support helped it. We have to adapt our strategy now.”

4.07 pm: Samajwadi Party workers celebrate in Agra. In Gorakhpur, BSP workers also join in.

4 pm: Samajwadi Party’s Ram Govind Choudhury, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, meets Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, reports ANI.

3.58 pm: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah congratulates RJD leaders Tejaswhi Yadav and Misa Bharati. In a sarcastic tweet, he also thanks BJP workers for giving the Opposition hope for the 2019 General Elections.

3.50 pm: The BJP’s Rinky Rani Pandey wins the Bhabua Assembly bye-election in Bihar, reports ANI.

3.48 pm: Here is a look at the vote share of different parties in Gorakhpur from 1999 to 2014.

3.40 pm: Rashtriya Janata Dal wins Jehanabad Assembly bye-poll, reports ANI.

3.08 pm: The Samajwadi Party has a lead of 28,737 votes over the BJP in Gorakhpur after 19 rounds of counting, reports ANI.

2.56 pm: Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya says they did not expect the BSP’s vote will be transferred to the Samajwadi Party. “We will analyse after seeing the final results and prepare for a situation in future when BSP, SP and Congress can come together, and also make our strategy for winning 2019 elections,” he tells ANI.

2.50 pm: In Uttar Pradesh’s Phulpur seat, Samajwadi Party candidate Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel is leading by 29,474 after the 20th round of counting.

2.40 pm: A tweet from Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Twitter handle thanks Mamata Banerjee for congratulating the party on its performance in the Araria and Jehanabad bye-elections. “Together we are fighting, we shall fight and we will win,” says the RJD.

2.28 pm: Samajwadi Party candidate Praveen Kumar Nishad is leading the BJP’s Upendra Dutt Shukla by 26,960 votes after the 17th round of counting in Gorakhpur, reports ANI.

2.20 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulates Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati. “The beginning of the end has started,” says Banerjee.

1.59 pm: In Gorakhpur, the Samajwadi Party’s lead over the BJP is now over 19,200 votes. After 14 rounds of counting, the SP’s Praveen Kumar Nishad has 2,12,061 votes, ANI reports.

1.54 pm: Samajwadi Party workers are shouting “Bua-Bhateeja Zindabad” slogans, referring to Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, during their celebrations in Lucknow, ANI reports. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party has supported the candidates of Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party in the bye-elections.

1.52 pm: The Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in Bhabua with 40,501 votes, while the Rashtriya Janata Dal is ahead in Jehanabad with 52,609 votes, ANI reports.

1.48 pm: The Rashtriya Janata Dal continues to lead in Araria in Bihar. The party now has 3,33,050 votes, with the BJP trailing by over 23,000 votes, ANI reports.

1.47 pm: After 15 rounds of counting, Samajwadi Party has 1,67,008 votes in Phulpur constituency of Uttar Pradesh, ANI reports. The BJP has 1,44,166 votes.

1.41 pm: Workers of Samajwadi Party begin celebrations in Lucknow, ANI reports. The party is leading in both Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh that went to bye-polls on Sunday.

1.39 pm: Fourteen rounds of counting are over in Phulpur. Samajwadi Party’s Nagendra Singh Patel is now leading by 20,495 votes, PTI reports.

1.37 pm: “People of Gorakhpur and Phulpur have given a result that the entire country was waiting for,” Samajwadi Party leader Dharmendra Yadav tells NDTV.

1.27 pm: “I do not agree that the SP-BSP tie-up has worked out,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut tells ANI. “I believe Lord Ram turned against you [BJP] the day you laid the red carpet for a leader from the SP.” This is an apparent reference to Naresh Agarwal, who joined the BJP on Monday.

1.26 pm: “People have spoken against the anti-farmer, anti-youth and anti-women policies of the [BJP] government,” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia tells ANI. “It is very clear that BJP is being shown the door by the people.”

1.23 pm: In Gorakhpur, the Samajwadi Party’s lead is now nearly 14,000 votes. After 11 rounds of counting, SP candidate Praveen Kumar Nishad has 1,63,941 votes, ANI reports.

1.19 pm: After the eighth round of counting in Bhabua in Bihar, the Bharatiya Janata Party leads with 19,738 votes, ANI reports. In Jehanabad, the Rashtriya Janata Dal is ahead after 10 rounds.

1.18 pm: In Uttar Pradesh’s Phulpur seat, Samajwadi Party candidate Nagendra Singh Patel has now widened his lead by 15,713 votes after the 11th round of counting, PTI reported.

1.16 pm: In Bihar’s Araria, Rashtriya Janata Dal leads with 2,57,108 votes against Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2,44,957, according to ANI.

1.04 pm: Samajwadi Party’s Praveen Kumar Nishad is leading by 10,598 votes after eight rounds of voting in Gorakhpur, according to ANI. He has 1,19,427 votes while Bharatiya Janata Party’s Upendra Dutt Shukla is second with 1,08,829 votes.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.