Bypolls: Campaigning ends in Mainpuri Lok Sabha, 6 Assembly constituencies : The Tribune India

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Bypolls: Campaigning ends in Mainpuri Lok Sabha, 6 Assembly constituencies

Rampur and Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, Padampur in Odisha, Sardarshahar in Rajasthan, Kurhani in Bihar and Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh are the assembly seats to witness polls

Bypolls: Campaigning ends in Mainpuri Lok Sabha, 6 Assembly constituencies

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav meets supporters during a public meeting in support of his wife and party candidate for Mainpuri by-election Dimple Yadav, in Mainpuri district, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. PTI photo



PTI

New Delhi/Lucknow, December 3

Campaigning concluded on Saturday evening for the December 5 bypolls to six assembly constituencies in five states and the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, where Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family is locked in a high-voltage contest with the BJP to hold on to its pocket borough.

Rampur and Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, Padampur in Odisha, Sardarshahar in Rajasthan, Kurhani in Bihar and Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh are the assembly seats where the 48-hour silence period started after several rallies and roadshows.

A riveting contest is being witnessed in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri seat, where the by-election was necessitated by the demise of Mulayam Singh Yadav in October, and Rampur Sadar seat, which fell vacant due to the disqualification of senior SP leader Azam Khan.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s elder daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav is the SP candidate in Mainpuri while BJP has fielded Raghuraj Singh Shakya, a former confidant of Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav.

While Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is hoping to demolish the key Samajwadi Party (SP) citadels after wresting Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats in June bypolls, the SP is keen to turn the tide with the public show of unity by Shivpal and Akhilesh, who declared that they have bridged their differences.

With the Congress and the BSP keeping away from the bypolls in Uttar Pradesh, it would be a direct fight between the BJP and Samajwadi Party and its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in all three places.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav, who stayed away during the June bypolls in Azamgarh and Rampur, campaigned vigorously for his wife in Mainpuri, moving out only once to attend a rally in Rampur- the stronghold of beleaguered SP leader Azam Khan.

“A lot of work has been done in this constituency by Netaji (Mulayam Singh) and Shivpal Yadav. Netaji and the Samajwadi Party have had a direct relationship with every family here. He considered the people here as his family, Netaji knew the names of every village and person,” Akhilesh said at a rally.

Azam Khan, who was the Rampur MLA, was disqualified by the speaker after he was convicted and sentenced to three-year imprisonment in a case of hate speech registered against him in April 2019. His party has fielded his aide Asim Raja.

Out on bail after being lodged in jail for more than two years in different cases, Khan, considered the ‘Muslim face’ of the SP, had been crisscrossing the constituency with an emotional appeal to fight against alleged atrocities on him by the BJP government.

BJP candidate Akash Saxena alleged Khan has hoodwinked Muslims by showing them the “fear of the BJP”.

In Khatauli, a dusty town that was a hotbed of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in western Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is trying to retain the seat by fielding Rajkumari Saini.

She is the wife of Vikram Singh Saini who was disqualified from the assembly after his conviction and sentence of two years imprisonment by a district court in a 2013 riots case.

RLD candidate Madan Bhaiya, a four-term MLA, had won his last election almost 15 years ago, followed by three consecutive defeats in assembly polls in 2012, 2017 and 2022 from Loni in Ghaziabad.

Former Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi addressed several public meetings in the constituency.

The counting of votes for the single parliamentary and six assembly seats will be held on December 8 to coincide with the ballot count for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.

The by-election results are a battle of prestige as the ruling parties are enjoying comfortable majority in their respective states.

The Sardarshahar seat in Rajasthan was held by Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma (77) who passed away on October 9 after a prolonged illness. The Congress has fielded Late Sharma’s son Anil Kumar while former MLA Ashok Kumar is the BJP candidate.

Eight other candidates are in the fray.

“People are happy with the work being done by the Congress party. We are confident of winning the seat,” PCC chief Govind Singh Dotasra said.

BJP state president Satish Poonia and other leaders of the saffron party, too, had addressed rallies and campaigned in support of the party candidate.

The by-election to the Padampur seat in Odisha, necessitated by the death of BJD legislator Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, has seen another round of high-pitch campaigning by the ruling party and the BJP.

Senior BJP leader and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan led the BJP charge, accusing Naveen Patnaik’s party of being “tired due to overstaying” in power in Odisha for 22 years.

After the BJD tasted its first bypoll defeat since 2009 earlier this month, the party launched an aggressive campaign for the December 5 by-election.

At least 10 ministers and nearly three dozen MLAs of the BJD descended on the battleground to canvass for party nominee Barsha Singh Bariha, the elder daughter of MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha whose death necessitated the by-poll.

Both the BJP and BJD engaged their tribal leaders in the campaign as votes of the community are a key factor in the segment.

Odisha Congress chief Sarat Pattnayak and other leaders campaigned for party candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu who had previously won the seat three times.

The bypolls to Bhanupratappur seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribes, in Maoist-hit Kanker was necessitated due to the death of Congress MLA and deputy speaker of the Assembly Manoj Singh Mandavi last month.

As many as seven candidates are in the fray, though it is largely a direct contest between the ruling Congress and the BJP.

The Congress has fielded Savitri Mandavi, wife of the deceased MLA, while the BJP nominee is former MLA Brahmanand Netam.

Sarva Adivasi Samaj, an umbrella body of tribal communities in Bastar, has also fielded former Indian Police Service Officer Akbar Ram Korram, who is contesting as an Independent. Korram retired as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police in 2020.

The Congress has been attacking Netam after he was summoned in a rape case by the Jharkhand police but the BJP alleged that Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel was hatching a conspiracy by colluding with the Hemant Soren-led government in Jharkhand to malign Netam’s image fearing defeat in the by-election.

In the Kurhani assembly segment in Bihar, the success of JD(U) candidate Manoj Singh Kushwaha, a former MLA, will cement Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s position, while a loss may embolden his detractors.

Seventy-one-year-old Kumar had addressed a rally on the penultimate day of campaigning.

The JD(U) is contesting the seat where the by-election has been necessitated by the disqualification of RJD MLA Anil Kumar Sahani.

Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav held four rallies, of which the last one saw him sharing the stage with Kumar for the first time since they joined hands in August after the JD(U) parted ways with the BJP.

Before leaving for Singapore where his father Lalu Prasad is scheduled to undergo a kidney transplant on Monday, he repeatedly invoked the charismatic appeal of the RJD president to ensure that supporters voted for the ally.

On the last day, Chirag Paswan, who now heads a splinter group of the LJP, held a joint roadshow with Ravi Kishan, Bhojpur actor and BJP MP from Gorakhpur, for party’s candidate and former MLA Kedar Gupta.

#BJP #Mulayam Singh Yadav #Rajasthan


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