After sweeping the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and the assembly elections past year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced formidable rivals in the form of Samajwadi Party (SP) and BSP who stitched a last minute alliance in the by-polls.
"We failed to understand the implications of this alliance between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party that are as different as chalk and cheese in the middle of the elections as part of bargain for the Rajya Sabha elections", he said.
Mr Yadav, whose party wrested both the high-profile seats from the ruling BJP with BSP's backing, claimed the victory margin of his candidates would have been larger, had paper ballots been used. In fact, pooling of SP and BSP votes during 2014 Lok Sabha elections shows that the Opposition alliance could win only 41 Lok Sabha seats while the BJP could still have won 37 seats against their combined might.
The BSP-SP alliance in UP, like the erstwhile JD (U)-RJD alliance in Bihar in 2015, should be read as the coming together of those caste communities who feel left out from the BJP's caste matrix.
When his attention was drawn to the Congress campaigning against his party in the by polls, the former chief minister stressed "only those who forget old things are successful".More news: Tom Crean named Bulldogs' head coach
Political observers feel that unless the Congress reclaims some states from the BJP and retains Karnataka in Assembly elections slated to be held later this year, its chances of leading such an alliance may weaken further. "These results would have an impact on the thinking of all the secular, democratic parties so that they evolve a proper electoral tactic, keeping in view the objective of defeating the BJP", Raja told media in New Delhi.
The Samajwadi Party's Nagendra Singh Patel emerged victorious in Phulpur with a margin of 59,613 votes.
For now, with the Congress still to prove itself, regional satraps such as West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Telangana's K Chandrashekar Rao are attempting to form a non-Congress, non-BJP "third front".
The defeat of BJP candidates in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, which the party had won by over three lakh votes in 2014, is being explained by the party as unexpected. Party leader Sonia Gandhi hosted a dinner recently for all non-BJP parties, an event that was attended by leaders of 20 Opposition parties, including the Congress.
Shivpal's congratulatory tweet came several months after he was locked in a bitter struggle for power with his niece Akhilesh Yadav.
The BJP's loss in UP also means that the non-Yadav OBC, non-Jatav Dalit combination that BJP built before 2017 assembly polls stands dented.