Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh will on Monday see a mini version of assembly elections with bypolls in 11 constituencies, coming just months after the BJP swept the state in the Lok Sabha elections.
The UP bypolls for Gangoh, Rampur, Iglas (SC), Lucknow Cantonment, Govindnagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur (SC), Jalalpur, Balha (SC) and Ghosi seats are being held along with the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.
It is a four-cornered contest with the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress fielding candidates on all 11 assembly seats.
While the ruling BJP will try to build on its Lok Sabha success, the opposition parties hope the results will help them galvanise its cadres ahead of the 2022 elections for the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
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.
We have several challenges before us. But with the blessings of the seniors and the support of the youth, no one will be able to stop the party from coming to power in 2022," newly appointed Congress state president Ajay Kumar Lallu said recently.
Lallu said the Congress will become the voice of the deprived, farmers, youth and women in the state.
He exhorted workers to overcome all hurdles through determination and hard work, and function unitedly.
However, the ruling party's state unit chief Swatantradev Singh has claimed that the assembly bypolls will be a "one-sided contest in favour of the BJP."
"BJP workers in the entire state are a committed cadre and are working for the party's programmes rather than seeking personal gain, he recently told reporters.
The government of Yogi Adityanath is committed to the protection of the poorest and the marginalised sections of society. The BJP will make a clean sweep in the upcoming by-elections," he said.
The party is highlighting the development work carried out by the BJP government, as well as initiatives to make India clean and plastic-free, he said.
The BSP and the SP, which were in an alliance in the Lok Sabha 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.
In the current assembly the BJP has 302 MLAs, SP 47 and BSP 18. BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has eight MLAs and the Congress seven.
In the recent Hamirpur by-election, BJP candidate Yuvraj Singh won by a margin of 17,846 votes over Samajwadi Party candidate Manoj Prajapati.
The assembly bypolls were necessitated after some MLAs won the Lok Sabha elections and resigned as members of the state assembly.
The Ghosi assembly seat fell vacant following the resignation of MLA Phagu Chauhan after he was appointed the Governor of Bihar.
Of the 11 seats, eight were held earlier by the BJP and Pratapgarh was represented by BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal). The seats of Rampur and Jalalpur (Ambedkarnagar) were held by the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, respectively.
The maximum candidates, 13 each, are from Lucknow Cantonment and Jalalpur assembly constituencies, followed by 12 in Ghosi and 11 each in Gangoh, Pratapgarh and Balha (SC).
Nine candidates each are in the fray in Govindnagar and Manikpur. Seven candidates each will contest the bypolls from Rampur, Iglas (SC) and Zaidpur (SC).