Campaigning for Rampur,  Azamgarh bypolls ends

| | Lucknow
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Campaigning for Rampur,  Azamgarh bypolls ends

Wednesday, 22 June 2022 | PNS | Lucknow

The campaigning for the bypolls to Ramnpur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats ended on Tuesday evening. The polling will be held on June 23. The Samajwadi Party expressed confidence that it would retain both the seats while the BJP was said to be struggling to make a dent in the SP’s bastion.

For the SP, the battle is about retaining the momentum it generated in the UP assembly elections earlier. For the BJP, it’s about breaking the control of the Yadav and Khan families in the two Lok Sabha constituencies.

The   Bahujan Samaj Party contesting only Azamgarh seat is struggling to remain relevant in Uttar Pradesh politics.

A prestige battle is on the cards for the SP on the two seats represented by party president Akhilesh Yadav (Azamgarh) and its Muslim face Azam Khan (Rampur). The two leaders vacated these seats after being elected to UP Vidhan Sabha in March earlier this year.

For the SP, it’s a do-or-die battle as after a stellar show in the recent UP assembly elections, this party cannot afford any setback as a loss or even a very tight result could send wrong signals before the 2024 general elections.

In 2009, 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the SP had won both the seats twice while the BJP only once. In fact, in 2009, the BJP won Azamgarh after it fielded SP ex-MP Ramakant Yadav.

While the BJP has fielded former SP MLC Ghanshyam Lodhi (OBC) in Rampur, the SP has given a ticket to Azam Khan’s loyalist Asim Raza. The BSP has not fielded any candidates.

In 2019, the SP won the seat by a margin of 1.1 lakh votes and recorded 52.7 per cent vote share while the BJP’s vote share was 42.3 per cent. As the SP and BSP had contested together as ‘mahagathbandhan’, the transfer of votes of Mayawati’s party helped the SP clinch the seat. Rampur in western UP has a high minority population of 50.57 per cent while the SC population is 13.38 per cent.

In the UP assembly elections earlier this year, the SP won three while BJP two seats across the five assembly segments of Suar, Chamraua, Bilaspur, Rampur and Milak as communal polarisation played a key role in Rampur.

The Prophet remark row is likely to make an impact in the elections and lead to polarisation. With the BSP not in the contest, opposition votes are not likely to be split, thus giving the SP an advantage. All eyes are on Azam Khan in his family stronghold.

In Azamgarh, the SP has fielded Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav while the BJP has repeated its 2019 candidate and Bhojpuri star Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’. The BSP has given a ticket to Guddu Jamali, who contested on an AIMIM ticket in the 2022 assembly polls from Mubarakpur Vidhan Sabha seat and bagged 36,000 votes.

The SP swept all the 10 assembly seats in the district in the assembly elections earlier this year, riding on the consolidation of Muslim-Yadav votes. Its alliance with caste-based parties like SBSP, Mahan Dal and Apna Dal (K) helped it gain the OBC/MBC votes as well. Five of these 10 seats — Sagri, Gopalpur, Mubarakpur, Azamgarh and Mehnagar — are the assembly segments of Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat.

In 2019, the SP won the seat by a margin of 2.6 lakh votes with a vote share of 60.4 per cent. The BJP’s vote share was 35.1 per cent. 

The SP and BSP separately got 3.4 lakh and 2.6 lakh votes respectively in 2014 while Akhilesh bagged 6.21 lakh votes in 2019.

However, an analysis of the numbers shows that the BSP managed to retain its votes in the assembly polls earlier this year. In Azamgarh, the BSP performed well as compared to the rest of the state, owing to its high SC population.

Including Guddu Jamali’s votes in Mubarakpur, the BSP’s vote share on the seat was 24.3 per cent, almost double the state average of 12.9 per cent. It bagged 2.6 lakh seats, almost similar to its 2014 tally. While  the SP bagged 40.5 per cent votes, BJP’s vote share was 30.7 per cent. It reduced the SP’s lead from 2.6 lakh to 1.06 lakh.

The battle in Azamgarh is all about how many votes the BSP candidate is able to retain and to whom it inflicts more damage. If Guddu Jamali gets the votes of the minority community, he will harm the SP. However, if he gets the SC votes, he will harm the BJP.  The BJP needs to snatch more than 1 lakh votes from the BSP to make it an even contest.

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