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Post bypolls victories: 2022 assembly poll warm-up: Akhilesh may ride cycle again

  Updated: Oct 29, 2019, 21:15 IST

pjaiswal@hindustantimes.com

LUCKNOW: Buoyed by the recent victory on three UP assembly seats in by-polls and two in Maharashtra assembly polls, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav may soon be seen riding his bicycle with a red cap on.

For the 2022 assembly polls, the party is planning a warm-up statewide campaign -- on bicycles -- against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh would lead the campaign.

Akhilesh, as the then state SP president, had steered the party’s bicycle campaign in UP against the then full-majority Mayawati government in 2011 and then followed it up with a solo Kranti Rath Yatra across the state.

Within months, in the elections in March 2012, the Samajwadi Party came back to power in the state -- and for the first time with full majority. The then party president Mulayam Singh Yadav credited Akhilesh for the victory by virtue of his protracted campaign and installed him as the chief minister.

The last time Akhilesh had announced that he will ride a bicycle in a campaign was ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But it never took off. Even the date was fixed for the ride in Kannauj. But, following the pre-poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Akhilesh called it off.

“The cycle yatras will go in all the 75 districts of the state, a schedule would soon be worked out. Akhileshji, if not in all, will ride some distances in several districts. He will ride the inaugural one,” said a party leader in the know of things.

Akhilesh, at his press conference in Lucknow on October 6, had said: “The party will strategise on a statewide agitation against the BJP government soon after the by-polls get over.”

The SP won three of the 11 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh by-polls in the results that came on October 24. The party wrested Zaidpur from the BJP and Jalalpur from the BSP in the by-polls and retained Rampur.

While SP gained two seats, the BSP lost its lone seat (to the SP) and the BJP too lost one seat (to the SP).

The Congress failed to win any seat. It had not held any of the 11 seats for which by-elections were held.

This was the first time the SP contested any election solo ever since Akhilesh became party chief in January 2017.

He had tied up with the Congress for the 2017 UP assembly polls and lost power.

He then allied with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and his party won only five seats, losing even in its bastions of Kannauj, Firozabad and Badaun. BSP had won ten seats, yet Mayawati snapped ties with SP blaming the alliance’s poor show on SP.

However, SP had won Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana Lok Sabha by-polls and the Noorpur (assembly) by-election in 2018.

The BSP had not contested the by-polls. Instead, it had supported the SP-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance.

Akhilesh’s party also emerged on second position in Lucknow Cantt, Manikpur, Pratapgarh and Balha assembly seats in 2019 assembly by-polls.

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