In a setback for the BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi constituency, the party has lost two seats in the legislative council elections after holding on to them for 10 years. Both the seats – one reserved for teachers and the other for graduates – were won by Samajwadi Party candidates.
On Saturday, the Samajwadi Party’s Ashutosh Sinha won the Varanasi Division Graduates’ seat a day after his party colleague Lal Bihari Yadav won from teachers’ constituency.
Polling was held on Tuesday for 11 seats to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council – the upper house of the state legislature with five reserved for graduates and six for teachers. The term of the members, known as MLCs, had expired on May 6. Teachers’ associations linked to the BJP, Samajwadi Party and the Congress had fought the polls, with 199 candidates in the contest.
With results for two seats still pending on Saturday, the BJP had won four of the 11 seats, the Samajwadi Party three and independent candidates won two. Despite a favourable tally for the ruling party, the Samajwadi Party’s gains in the BJP stronghold have surprised many.
“It’s a big victory. I am happy with our result,” Lal Bihari Yadav, the Samajwadi candidate in the Varanasi Division Teachers’ Constituency said.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the six states in India with a bicameral legislature, with two houses – the Vidhan Sabha or the Legislative Assembly and the Vidhan Parishad or the Legislative Council. The legislative council has 100 members.
PM Modi has been elected to the Lok Sabha twice from Varanasi, winning the elections first in 2014 with a huge 36 per cent margin over Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and a bigger 45 per cent margin over the Samajwadi Party candidate in 2019. Before him, the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat was held by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi.
(With inputs from agencies)