Varun rant, Modi fail to jack up BJP fortunes

For a party nursing an aspiration for the Prime Minister's chair, Saturday was doomsday.

From 10.30 am, as news started to drift in of one candidate after another biting the dust, partymen began to desert the office. Both BJP ki lehar slogan and the Varun factor failed to work the wonders. And the star power of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi found few takers.

Of the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in which Modi campaigned, the party managed a victory only in three Agra and Meerut, where the BJP garnered victory and Amroha, from where ally Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Devendra Nagpal won.

The news went from grim to grimmer with six-time parliamentarian from Bareilly Santosh Gangwar, five-time MP from Maharajganj Pankaj Malik and the party's national general secretary Vinay Katiyar from Ambedkar Nagar, all suffering defeat. In Bulandshahr, party veteran Ashok Pradhan lost as well.

Even news of Lalji Tandon's victory in Lucknow, Varun Gandhi's victory margin of over 2 lakh votes in Pilibhit, Murli Manohar Joshi's win in Varanasi and Rajnath Singh's win in Ghaziabad failed to lift the gloom.

The resounding defeat in Pilibhit's neighbourhood Bareilly proved that the Varun factor had actually helped seal the party's fate outside that constituency.

In Aonla, Varun's mother Maneka Gandhi barely managed to scrape through. Till noon, senior office-bearers avoided the media. After 2 pm, they finally accepted the people's mandate has been against them.

Still, party's state president Ramapati Ram Tripathi pointed out: "It cannot be denied that we have gained in Uttar Pradesh and voters have preferred national parties over regional ones."

Having made tall claims of touching a 40-plus tally in the state, Tripathi was at a loss when asked to comment on the party's not managing to retain even its traditional seats Maharajganj, Bareilly and Bulandshahar.

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