Lucknow: Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh by-elections, the BJP is channelising all its energy into winning all assembly seats going to bypolls in Uttar Pradesh on October 21. The party is organising several public meetings, conclaves for women and meetings with farmers, OBC, ST among others. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is scheduled to address rallies on October 15, 16 and 18. But although the party has eight of the 11 seats in the state, a look at the poll percentage reveals that registering big win won’t be an easy task for the BJP.
The first challenge for the BJP is likely to come from the Ghosi assembly seat in the Mau district where the party had won with a very thin margin in the 2017 state assembly polls. The then BJP candidate Phagu Chauhan had won with just 7,000 votes, despite PM Narendra Modi’s popularity. The runners up spot was taken by Bahujan Samaj Party candidate who got 34 per cent votes. The seat was vacated after Chauhan was appointed the governor of Bihar. This time, Vijay Rajbhar is the BJP candidate on this seat. Rajbhar, who is contesting assembly elections for the first time, is likely to face tough competition from the opposition parties.
The Jalalpur assembly seat of Ambedkarnagar, which is considered a BSP stronghold and houses sizeable amount of Dalit, Muslim and Brahmin communities, poses another challenge for the saffron party. The seat was vacated by BSP’s Ritesh Pandey after he got elected to Lok Sabha in 2019.
Although BJP 2017 candidate Rajesh Singh did not win this seat, he did raise party’s hopes of performing well in the bypolls. However, many believe that Singh stood runner-up because of the political legacy of his father Sher Bahadur Singh, who had won this seat on a BJP ticket in 1996, after which he won the seat as an independent candidate, and then again with SP and BSP tickets each.
According to journalist Rameshwar Pandey, the challenge is not just for BJP but for the SP and BSP as well. “It will be after a long time that Azam Khan will be face a challenge from the residents of Rampur. In such a situation, there seems to be scope for the BJP to make a dent on this seat. Rampur will be a challenge for the BJP as well because it might not get a better chance to snatch away Azam's stronghold.”
Ayodhya College professor Anil Singh said the BJP’s poll preparations are way ahead of other parties and the party also has the benefit of there being a divided Opposition in the state. “The BSP is contesting these bypolls which is proving beneficial for the BJP. This time, the CPI and CPIM have also fielded their candidates. A weak opposition has weakened the issues of inflation and unemployment against the government.”
The next seat which is again a challenge for the BJP in the bypolls is the Gangoh assembly seat of Saharanpur which will be witnessing a four cornered fight. Taking a look at the figures of 2017 state assembly polls it is seen that the BJP had bagged highest 39% votes while surprisingly the runner up was the Congress party with 24% votes. The SP and BSP had bagged 18% votes each. The swing factor on this seat may change the result in favour of any party, however BJP’s Keerat Singh is leaving no stone unturned to retain this seat with the BJP.
Then there is the Zaidpur seat of Barabanki where Tanuj Punia, son of former MP and veteran leader PL Punia, is contesting on a Congress ticket. Tanuj is said to have good hold in the regional politics of Barabanki. Although he lost to BJP candidates on two occasions in the past, this time the road to success will not be easy for BJP’s Amrish Rawat.
Another seat that may prove difficult to win is Rampur, which been voting for Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan since 1980, barring once in 1996 when he lost to a Congress candidate. Considered a traditional stronghold of the Samajwadi Party, the seat will witness a four-cornered contest wherein Muslim votes would be divided between the SP, BSP and Congress. In a bid to retain the seat, the SP has announced candidature of Azam Khan’s wife Tazeen Fatima. The BJP has fielded Bharat Bhushan Gupta.