The Bharatiya Janata Party’s stunning losses in two bye-elections in Uttar Pradesh and one in Bihar made the front page headlines on Thursday.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party combine defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bye-polls. The seats fell vacant after Adityanath, who held the Gorakhpur seat for five terms, became the chief minister in 2017, and Keshav Prasad Maurya was appointed his deputy. These victories could also end up providing a blueprint for the Opposition to stop the BJP juggernaut.
The party’s loss in Gorakhpur is especially bitter as it was viewed as the party’s bastion. The former mahant, or head priest, of the Gorakhnath temple Avaidyanath won it on a Hindu Mahasabha ticket in 1989.
The Indian Express led with the headline “Yogi’s Gorakhpur falls”.
The Times of India’s headline was more to the point, noting the fall of the BJP stronghold of Gorakhpur. The newspaper also reported on the meeting between Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his archrival whom he allied with, Bahujan Samaj Party Mayawati. The BSP chief reportedly sent a car to Yadav’s house, the daily reported.
“Gored-akhpur”, screamed the The Telegraph’s banner headline. The paper also published a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Adityanath standing together in a room, not looking at each other.
“Bypoll blow for BJP,” was the Hindustan Times’s headline. “The bypoll outcome in general, and the loss of Gorakhpur in particular, sparked shock and introspection in the BJP, which, along with its ally, had swept 73 of the 80 seats in UP in 2014,” the newspaper noted.
The major Hindi dailies too were taken aback by the BJP’s reversal of fortune. Dainik Jagaran’s front page spoke of the spectacular achievement of “Bua-Babua [aunt and nephew]” combination, referring to Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. Hindustan too ran a straight headline, noting how the results were a major blow to the BJP.