LUCKNOW/DELHI: The story of the civic polls in Uttar Pradesh has developed some blips. And while Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who has rushed around campaigning for corporators and mayors as if it was an Assembly or Lok Sabha election, has managed to retain an overwhelming majority there are a few straws in the wind that are not exactly blowing the BJP way. And are significant in a crucial state like UP.

Two by elections are due early next year for the UP Lok Sabha elections from Gorakhpur constituency, vacated by Adityanath for the Assembly; and Phulpur vacated by Keshav Prasad Maurya who is now Deputy Chief Minister of UP, and earlier the MLA from Sirathu Assembly constituency.

The BJP has lost all six nagar panchayat seats in Kaushambi that is Maurya’s home town, and is considered a party stronghold. The ruling party has also been defeated in one crucial ward that houses the Gorakhnath temple of which the Chief Minister is the head priest, in Gorakhpur. An Independent has won from here. Local leaders insist that this is indicative of the BJP workers anger with Adityanath, whose e-tender system has cut into the “small money” the party workers make on “small” projects and now find themselves without any means of income. Besides the BJP state unit has been feeling marginalised in parts of UP, with Adityanath supported Hindu Vahini growing in stature and clout.

The BJP is ahead in at least 13 of the 16 Mayor municipalities at the time of writing. The Bahujan Samaj party is leading in two or at times three as the counting is still on . This is not a major change from the 2012 elections where the BJP had won 10 of the 12 Major posts at the time.

But in the nagar nigams, the corporators emerging from these elections are a mixed bunch with a large number of Independents having been elected with all parties claiming them as their own. It is clear that while the majority remains with the BJP there is a sizeable number of Independents now with the Opposition. And the results of the elections to the wards give 146 to the BJP, with the Samajwadi party whose top state leaders did not bother campaigning for these civic polls winning 59 wards, BSP 29 and the Congress not that far behind with 22. Together the non BJP political parties have won 110 wards.

The BSP has revived somewhat in these polls, as against its complete disappearance from the Assembly elections in the state. Interestingly, however the Congress led by its state president Raj Babbar has managed to raise itself as well, giving a good fight in some of the wards as compared to earlier performances where the party was struggling to survive in the state that was once its bastion. Interestingly, in a Mathura ward both BJP and Congress candidates got 874 votes each, and the BJP then secured the seat in a closely watched ‘lucky draw’.

These elections that have certainly not wiped out the united Opposition are expected to move into a keen contest for the two Lok Sabha by elections due probably by January next year. There are indications that the Opposition might look to field a united candidate for both these seats, to explore the possibility of taking this experiment into the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 with the intention of fielding one Opposition candidate against one BJP candidate.

The Congress and Samajwadi parties who had reached an understanding for the Assembly elections are fairly supportive of this move. Mayawati was the uncertain factor but has indicated that she is not completely opposed to the idea, provided she gets sufficient seats to cover her base. The civic polls where the Opposition kept a fairly low profile as against the UP CM for whom this had become a virtual prestige issue has come as an ‘encouragement’. In that the Opposition has cobbled together a decent number of wards, crossing the 100 mark.

However, Amethi continues to pose a problem for the Congress with the Nehru-Gandhi family losing its grip over this constituency of Rahul Gandhi’s. It has lost the nagar panchayat to the BJP in Amethi. Significantly, a large number of Independents have won in this election with Jaunpur, for instance, being one such district that has returned three Independents to the Nagar Panchayat.

After victory became clear Adityanath told the media, that the BJP has improved the lives of the people in UP. Earlier former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who had decided not to campaign for the local polls had said, ““Nothing should be expected from the BJP now… its foremost task is how to spread hatred, create problems and humiliate others. In order to divert attention of the people, the BJP leaders pick up brooms or wear masks. The BJP blames others (for lack of development in the state), but now it is ruling Uttar Pradesh… most of the big cities had BJP mayors, but even the garbage has not been removed in the past 10 to 15 years.Except for picking up brooms (as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission)… I don’t think the BJP has any direction.”