The result of a prestige battle between Samajwadi Party and BJP in the high-profile Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat as well as six other assembly constituencies across five states will be declared on Thursday, after the counting of votes for the by-elections. It will coincide with the ballot count for Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.
Rampur and Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh, Padampur in Odisha, Sardarshahar in Rajasthan, Kurhani in Bihar and Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh are the assembly seats, where results will be declared. A high-stakes contest was witnessed in Mainpuri seat of Uttar Pradesh, where the by-election was necessitated due to the death of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav in October, and in Rampur Sadar seat that fell vacant due to senior SP leader Azam Khan’s disqualification.
Mulayam Singh’s elder daughter-in-law and party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav is the SP candidate in Mainpuri, a pocket borough of the Yadav family, while the BJP has fielded Raghuraj Singh Shakya, a former confidant of Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav.
A win for SP could provide some consolation for Akhilesh after the defeat in the UP assembly polls early this year and the loss of Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats to the BJP in the June bypolls. With the Congress and the BSP keeping away from the bypolls, it will be a direct fight between the BJP and SP as well as its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in all three places.
Azam Khan, who was the Rampur MLA, was disqualified by the assembly speaker after he was convicted and sentenced to three-year imprisonment in a case of hate speech registered against him in April 2019. Out on bail after being lodged in jail for over two years in different cases, Khan, considered the ‘Muslim face’ of the SP, sought votes for his protege Asim Raja citing the alleged injustice meted out to him by the BJP government. The seat saw a low turnout on Monday.
While Sardarshahar and Bhanupratappur were held by the Congress, the BJP had won in Khatauli and the SP held Rampur. Padampur was with the BJD and Kurhani was held by the RJD. The bypoll results will not have any impact on the central and state governments as ruling parties enjoy a comfortable majority.
In Khatauli, which was a hotbed of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in western UP, 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.
The Sardarshahar seat in Rajasthan was held by Congress MLA Bhanwar Lal Sharma (77), who died on October 9 after a prolonged illness. The Congress has fielded his son Anil Kumar while former MLA Ashok Kumar is the BJP candidate. The bypoll to the Padampur seat in Odisha was necessitated by the death of BJD legislator Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha.
After the BJD tasted its first bypoll defeat since 2009 earlier this month, the party launched an aggressive campaign for Barsha Singh Bariha, the elder daughter of MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha whose death necessitated the bypoll.
The by-election 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. The Congress has fielded Savitri Mandavi, wife of the deceased MLA, while the BJP nominee is former MLA Brahmanand Netam.
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. The JD(U) is contesting the seat where the by-election has been necessitated by the disqualification of RJD MLA Anil Kumar Sahani.
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