Pride would be at play for both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the ruling Samajwadi Party in the September 13 bypolls in Uttar Pradesh.
While the SP is looking to avenge its humiliating loss by winning the by-polls, the BJP wants to do well here to arrest a string of bypoll reverses it has just faced in Uttarakhand and Bihar.
The Congress made a ‘clean sweep’ in the hill state while the BJP lost 4-6 to the RJD, JD (U) and the Congress combine in Bihar.
Before the bypoll reverses, BJP chief Amit Shah visited Lucknow to remind the party MPs of the importance of winning the bypolls. “A loss would not augur well for our mission 2017,” said Shah. With much at stake for the BJP — as all the 10 assembly segments that go to polls in UP were held by the party — Shah has preferred to back old party hands.
The tickets announced on Tuesday went to locally active workers — Saharanpur city (Rajiv Gumber), Bijnor (Hemendra Pal Singh), Thakurdwara (Rajpal Chauhan), Noida (Vimla Batham), Nighasan (Ram Kumar Verma), Lucknow east (Gopal Tandon), Hamirpur (Jagdish Vyas) Charkhari (Geeta Singh), Sirathu (Santosh Patel) and Balha reserved (Akshaywar Lal Gaur).
The BJP has left Rohaniya segment in Varanasi for its ally Apna Dal. Kairana will not have a bypoll owing to legal hassles.
Prem Singh Shakya, an OBC and a regional committee member of Braj region, will contest the lone Lok Sabha bypoll in Mainpuri. SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has put up his grandnephew Tej Pratap Singh from his traditional seat.
Interestingly both the SP and the BJP are eyeing the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s Dalit vote bank whose shift in Lok Sabha polls helped BJP win all the 17 reserved Lok Sabha seats in UP.
The Dalit votebank is a sizeable one in Mainpuri. So while the BJP has tasked three Dalit MPs to connect with the voters, the SP has already readied a list of all the Dalit pockets and has tasked the party cadre to visit each one.
The BJP however feels it has detected a weak link in the Mulayam bastion — the Bhogaon assembly segment in Mainpuri where Mulayam had lost despite an overall impressive win.
But as a senior BJP leader said, “Mulayam Singh Yadav is still smarting under the impact of the massive loss in the Lok Sabha polls and has tasked the ruling party cadre to go all out to make amends this time.”
Meanwhile, the saffron party on Tuesday announced that it would field local deputy mayor Ranjan Ben Bhatta for the byelection to Gujarat’s Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, vacated by PM Modi.