The campaign for the bypolls to Rampur & Khatauli assembly seats and Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat ended on Saturday evening. In all the three constituencies, the ruling BJP is locked in a direct fight with the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal combine.
High stakes are involved for the Samajwadi Party in Mainpuri. The seat is witnessing the contest between BJP candidate and former SP MP Raghuraj Singh Shakya and Dimple Yadav, wife of SP president Akhilesh Yadav.
Earlier, this by-election was considered to be easy for Dimple. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party changed all the pre-poll predictions by fielding veteran leader Raghuraj Singh Shakya.
The heat quotient increased significantly as UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned in Mainpuri and addressed two meetings. The BJP deployed an army of MLAs and ministers to fight the SP in its traditional bastion.
Deputy CMs Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak also addressed several meetings in Mainpuri for two days. BJP state president Chaudhary Bhupendra Singh and general secretary (organisation) Dharampal Singh a;so left no stone unturned to mobilise the voters.
Rampur is another SP bastion where veteran leader Azam Khan is fighting an existential battle. Five months after it wrested the Rampur Lok Sabha seat from Azam’s stronghold, the BJP is now wooing Pasmanda Muslim voters. The BJP deployed its Muslim leaders to win over the Pasmanda (OBCs) Muslims and held small meetings and conferences across the constituency.
Muslims and other communities have benefitted from government schemes like free ration during the pandemic and housing for the poor.
Considered the “Muslim face” of SP, Azam had won from Rampur for the tenth time in the assembly polls in March earlier this year. The by-election is being held following Azam’s disqualification after he was sentenced to three years in connection with a hate speech case.
Azam, who is facing over 80 cases, was released on bail after 27 months in May last. His close aide Asim Raza, who was defeated in the parliamentary by-election five months ago, has been fielded by the SP from the assembly seat.
The bypoll to Khatauli assembly seat has been necessitated due to disqualification of BJP legislator Vikram Singh Saini after his conviction and two-year imprisonment by a district court in a 2013 riots case.
This bypoll is a battle of prestige for Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary. RLD candidate Madan Bhaiya, a four-term MLA, had won his last election almost 15 years ago. However, he tasted three consecutive defeats in the assembly polls in 2012, 2017 and 2022 from Loni in Ghaziabad.
With the BSP abstaining from the bypoll, the SP-RLD alliance made an understanding with Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Aazad, who heads the Azad Samaj Party. Azad extended his support to the alliance candidate and actively campaigned for him.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party on Saturday gave a complaint to the Election Commission, alleging partisan conduct of police in Mainpuri. SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary, in a letter to UP’s Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla, demanded the removal of several police officers inMainpuri and Rampur districts. He also urged the Election Commission to ensure compliance of its directive to the officials of Mainpuri and Rampur.