Even though the bypolls for Azamgarh and Rampur parliamentary seats are only a few days away, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav is yet to start campaigning.
The Azamgarh seat fell vacant after Yadav’s resignation, while the Rampur seat fell vacant after the resignation of Azam Khan.
Both the leaders decided to continue as an MLA after winning in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
The polling for Azamgarh and Rampur bypolls will be held on June 23, while the counting will be done on June 26. Both the seats are considered SP bastion and retaining the seats will be a litmus test for Yadav and Khan.
In Azamgarh, Dharmendra Yadav is campaigning extensively along with a bunch of SP MLAs and senior leaders. SP’s Rampur MLA Khan reached Azamgarh along with his son, Abdullah Azam, on Saturday to campaign for Dharmendra Yadav.
Interestingly, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali, which could eat into SP’s Muslim votebank.
In Rampur, the BSP has not fielded any candidate against SP’s Asim Raza, who was handpicked by Khan.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has once again fielded Bhojpuri singer Dineshlal Yadav Nirahua in Azamgarh, who had lost to Akhilesh Yadav by more than 2.5 lakh votes in the 2019 general elections. In Rampur, the BJP has fielded Ghanshyam Lodhi. Lodhi, a former SP MLC, was once considered close to Khan. In both Azamgarh and Rampur seats, the main contest is said to be between the BJP and SP. The Congress is not contesting on both the seats.
Speaking to News18, SP spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan, who is camping in Azamgarh, said, “We are comfortably winning both the seats. People of Azamgarh and Rampur have shown their love for the SP and will once again vote for us. BJP candidate Nirhaua, who lost by more than 2.5 lakh votes last time, will lose again. Our workers are going to all villages. If they feel Yadav’s presence is needed, he will surely come.”
The SP allies, Rashtriya Lok Dal Chief Jayant Chaudhary and Chief of Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) Om Prakash Rajbhar, have been campaigning for Dharmendra Yadav.
The BJP, meanwhile, has deployed senior leaders, ministers and MLAs for campaigning. The BJP workers are going door-to-door to explain the development schemes of the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath, along with both the deputy CMs, are expected to reach Azamgarh and Rampur soon.
Rakesh Tripathi, UP BJP spokesperson, said, “Be it Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav or now Dharmendra Yadav, the SP has once again made it clear that they believe in dynastic politics and they have ignored the young and able youth of Azamgarh. The district has been known for people who make an identity for themselves instead of taking over the reins from their families. Our candidate Nirahua is a self-made man and he has earned name and fame because of his hard work. This time, the people of Azamgarh have made up their minds to vote for the BJP. We are winning both Azamgarh and Rampur.”
“Akhilesh Yadav is already smelling defeat and so has been abstaining from campaigning. It is more likely that he wants to blame Dharmendra Yadav for the defeat and doesn’t want to take the responsibility for the loss,” said Tripathi.