Polling for the by-elections to Rampur and Azamgarh parliamentary seats will take place on Thursday.
Over 35 lakh voters are eligible to cast their votes in these two bypolls in which 19 candidates are in the fray from the two constituencies considered to be the strongholds of Samajwadi Party.
The polling will take place between 7 am and 6 pm on Thursday, according to Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla.
The bypoll to the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat was necessitated due to resignation from Lok Sabha by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav following his election to UP assembly in March this year while the Rampur parliamentary seat was vacated by Mohammad Azam Khan for the same reason.
According to the chief electoral officer, 13 candidates are in the fray from Azamgarh, where 18.38 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise, while Rampur has six candidates and 17.06 lakh eligible voters.
Campaigning for the bypolls ended on Tuesday evening.
From Rampur, the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded former SP legislator Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi who recently joined the ruling party, while the SP has nominated Asim Raja, handpicked by Azam Khan. The Bahujan Samaj Party is not contesting from Rampur.
The Azamgarh constituency is witnessing a triangular contest between BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’, a famous Bhojpuri actor-singer, SP’s Dharmendra Yadav and Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali of the BSP.
The BJP is eyeing to bolster its strength in the Lok Sabha further through these bypolls, while the SP faces the challenge of retaining both the seats. In Azamgarh, there are 18.38 lakh voters -- 9,70,249 males, 8,67,942 females and 36 third gender electors.
According to officials, 2,176 booths have been set up at 1,149 polling stations of the constituency where an estimated 15 per cent of the residents are Muslims. All the five assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency — Azamgarh, Mubarakpur, Sagdi, Gopalpur and Mehnagar —were won by the SP in the recent assembly election.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha election, there was an alliance between SP and BSP, and Akhilesh Yadav had won easily from Azamgarh, securing 6.21 lakh votes against BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav who polled 3.61 lakh votes.
For the BJP, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath spearheaded the election campaign and sought votes for the BJP candidates on the two seats. However, Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple did not campaign in the bypolls. “We are winning both the Azamgarh and Rampur seats,” SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said.
The Rampur parliamentary constituency, which has almost an equal population of Hindus and Muslims, is considered a bastion of SP’s prominent Muslim face, Azam Khan. Yadavs, Sikhs and Dalit voters are also in a position to influence the outcome of the bypoll to the Lok Sabha seat.
In the 2019 Lok Sabaha election, Azam Khan had polled 5, 59,177 votes to defeat BJP candidate Jaya Prada who secured 4, 49,180 votes. Congress candidate Sanjay Kapoor had lost his deposit.
The Rampur Lok Sabha constituency comprises five assembly segments -- Rampur, Suar, Chamraua, Bilaspur, and Milak. In the 2022 assembly elections, the SP won from Rampur, Suar and Chamraua assembly constituencies while the BJP bagged the Bilaspur and Milak seats.