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As Rampur Readies for Four-Cornered Bypoll Contest, Azam Khan's Wife Becomes Safest Bet for SP

From Rampur, a non-Muslim has never won the election since 1952. The seat has been going to the kitty of SP, especially, after the emergence of Azam Khan.

Qazi Faraz Ahmad | News18@qazifarazahmad

Updated:October 3, 2019, 12:23 PM IST
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As Rampur Readies for Four-Cornered Bypoll Contest, Azam Khan's Wife Becomes Safest Bet for SP
File photo of Tazeen Fatima

Lucknow: One of the most interesting battles in the upcoming bypoll on eleven assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh is emerging out of Rampur that has traditionally been a Samajwadi Party (SP) stronghold for years.

In Rampur, the bypoll fight would be a four-cornered contest wherein Muslim votes would be divided among SP, BSP and Congress.In a clever move to retain the seat, the SP announced the candidature of Tazeen Fatima, wife of Rampur MP Azam Khan who has held the seat since 1980 and has lost just once in 1996.

With battle lines drawn, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to register its maiden victory. The party has fielded Bharat Bhushan Gupta with hopes of consolidating the Hindu vote bank. With that in place, the saffron party has also entrusted Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya, along with ministers Baldev Singh Aulakh and Mahesh Gupta with the responsibility of monitoring the seat of Rampur.

For SP, their campaign once again revolves around Azam Khan who has won the seat nine times since 1980. Notably, his wife Tazeen Fatima is currently a member of Rajya Sabha from Samajwadi Party.

Tazeen Fatima was elected to Upper House in 2014 and her term is ending in November 2020, making her a favourable candidate. Apart from her term, the party would try to encash the sympathy vote as Azam Khan has been implicated over 80 cases of different nature including 28 of land grabbing and others of theft, dacoity, among other charges.

Speaking on the Rampur bypoll, veteran journalist and political observer, Ratan Mani Lal said, “Due to strictness of administration Azam Khan is facing many cases and also he has been out of Rampur for quite some time, but still it will be not less than challenge for BJP to win the Rampur seat. The main reason behind this in my opinion is selection of a weak candidate.” BJP's Gupta had contested on a BSP ticket in 2012 assembly seat, managing to fish merely 16570 votes. During the last panchayat elections, Gupta managed to get just 1623 votes.

The Rampur assembly seat got vacant after Azam Khan was elected to Lok Sabha in 2019 general elections. It houses more than 52% Muslim and 17% Dalit voters which gives hope to the Bahujan Samaj Party to bank upon caste combinations to clinch a victory. However, from Rampur, a non-Muslim has never won the election since 1952. The seat has been going to the kitty of SP, especially, after the emergence of Azam Khan.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which is contesting from here for the first time has fielded former customs officer Zuber Masood Khan. The Congress has also fielded a Muslim candidate Arshad Ali Khan. Khan had left the grand-old party in 2012 and joined the Samajwadi Party, but returned to the Congress fold 2017.

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