The BJP’s Swatantra Dev Singh and the Congress’ Ajay Kumar Lallu are keen to hit a victory note as their party’s Uttar Pradesh unit chiefs in the bypolls to 11 Assembly seats on Monday to boost morale of their workers before the 2022 state elections. Of the 11 seats going to the bypolls, eight were held by the BJP and the Pratapgarh seat was held by its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal). The BJP, BSP, SP and the Congress have fielded their candidates on all the seats.
The saffron party is hoping to increase its tally in the Legislative Assembly by registering a win in Rampur, held by the Samajwadi Party, and in Jalalpur, held by the Bahujan Samaj Party. On the other hand, the opposition parties are expecting to repeat the success they tasted in the bypolls to Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana Lok Sabha seats, and in Noorpur assembly constituency last year.
The Congress, in particular, hopes to show signs of revival in UP after its battering in the Lok Sabha polls in when it won just one seat, party chief Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli constituency. In contrast, the BJP won 62 of the 80 parliamentary seats in the state and an ally bagged two more.
The BSP and the SP, which were in an alliance in the general elections, ended their tie-up after the polls. The BSP-SP combine won 15 seats. In the 2017 assembly polls, the SP had a tie-up with the Congress. Campaigning for the bypolls saw Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath targeting the Congress on the issue of abrogation of Article 370 provisions. He also hit out the SP and BSP over corruption.
Both Swatantra Dev Singh and Ajay Kumar Lallu exuded confidence that their parties will emerge victorious in the bypolls. While, Singh claimed that the bypolls will be “one-sided” for the BJP, Lallu said there are “indication of good results for the party”. Voting will be held days after the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, a leader of a lesser known political outfit Hindu Samaj Party in Lucknow, with the Congress latching onto it to highlight the “poor” law-and-order situation in the state.
During the hustings, UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh attacked the BJP government over the killing of Tiwari, saying the incident highlighted the “poor law-and-order situation” in the state.
“The law and order situation in the state has deteriorated from bad to worse. The killing of Kamlesh Tiwari in the state capital drop clear hints that all is certainly not well as far as tackling crime in the state is concerned,” he had said.
However, Adityanath termed the murder “an act of mischief to create terror”, and said that such incidents will not be tolerated and those involved will not be spared. In total, 109 candidates are in the fray for the bypolls to the Assembly seats of Gangoh, Rampur, Iglas (SC), Lucknow Cantonment, Govindnagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur (SC), Jalalpur, Balha (SC) and Ghosi.
The bypolls were necessitated after some MLAs won the Lok Sabha elections and resigned as members of the state assembly. The assembly constituency of Ghosi became vacant following the resignation of sitting MLA Phagu Chauhan after he was appointed as the Governor of Bihar.
The maximum number of candidates are 13 each in Lucknow Cantonment and Jalalpur assembly constituencies, followed by 11 each in Ghosi, Gangoh, Pratapgarh and Balha (SC). Nine candidates each are in the fray in Govindnagar and Manikpur seats. Besides, seven candidates each will contest the bypolls from Rampur, Iglas (SC) and Zaidpur (SC) seats.
In the UP Legislative Assembly, currently the BJP has 302 members, the SP 47 and the BSP 18. The BJP’s ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has eight legislators, while the Congress has seven MLAs in the House. In the Hamirpur by-elections, BJP candidate Yuwraj Singh won the bypoll by a margin of over 17,846 votes, defeating Samajwadi Party candidate Manoj Prajapati. Singh secured 74,374 votes, while Prajapati got 56,528 votes.