UP bypolls: Samajwadi Party looks to retain bastions as BJP plans inroads | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

UP bypolls: Samajwadi Party looks to retain bastions as BJP plans inroads

Nov 06, 2022 03:42 AM IST

Mainpuri fell vacant following the demise of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rampur assembly seat because of the disqualification of its MLA Azam Khan following the three-year jail term by the Rampur MP/MLA court in a 2019 hate speech case.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) faces a challenge to save its two citadels--Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat and Rampur assembly seat--from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Akhilesh Yadav-led party had failed in a similar attempt in June when the saffron outfit snatched the Azamgarh and Rampur parliamentary seats from it.

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav. (PTI Photo)
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav. (PTI Photo)

Mainpuri and Rampur would go to bypolls on December 5.

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Mainpuri fell vacant following the demise of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Rampur assembly seat because of the disqualification of its MLA Azam Khan following the three-year jail term by the Rampur MP/MLA court in a 2019 hate speech case.

On both seats, the SP is likely to field family members. A Yadav in Mainpuri and a Khan in Rampur. On both seats, the SP has sympathy factors--the death of political icon Mulayam and injustice at the hands of ruling BJP with Azam Khan, but the challenge from the belligerent BJP is big.

Both had been such impregnable fortresses of the SP that the BJP could not win in Modi-BJP waves in both the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls and failed in Rampur in both the 2017 and 2022 UP assembly polls.

When asked whom the SP would field to retain the seats, national secretary and state spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said: “The party’s national president will sit with the party top leaders and decide. But irrespective of whom the party filed, it will win both the seats.”

The election commission announced the elections on both seats on Saturday, but Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, the grandnephew of Mulayam and son-in-law of the Bihar former chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, has been doing the rounds in the party circles since the day after Mulayam passed away on October 10.

Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, 34, had won the same seat in 2014 Lok Sabha bypolls (when Mulayam vacated it to retain Azamgarh) during the time when Akhilesh Yadav was the UP chief minister. When Mulayam contested and won the Mainpuri seat in 2019, Tej Pratap was his election in-charge.

“The road now in Mainpuri would be difficult for the SP given the ruthlessness that the BJP is projecting to win the seat. The BJP is a united force, the Yadav family is divided,” said Sughar Singh, a local journalist in Saifai, Etawah.

Shivpal factor

The Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) chief Shivpal Yadav, about whom there had been speculations that he had been wanting to project himself as inheritor of his elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav’s political legacy, has not been making his stance clear.

With the elections were declared on the seat, the PSP-L camp had been sending confusing signals, one that he might not contest the seat himself and is looking for the seat for his son and the PSP-L state president Aditya Yadav. Another indicates that for the family’s sake, he would support Tej Pratap on the seat.

Despite the rift between Shivpal and Akhilesh, Tej and Shivpal have maintained their original relationship. However, if Shivpal decides to take part in the elections against the SP, then the SP’s task would get more difficult.

Shivpal is the sitting MLA from the Jaswant Nagar assembly seat, a large part of which is part of the Mainpuri constituency. SP chief Akhilesh is the MLA from another assembly segment of Mainpuri--Karhal. Shivpal also has a significant influence on the Mainpuri Sadar, Kishni and Bhogaon assembly segments.

Deepak Mishra, a PSP-L leader said: “Shivpal ji had said that the PSP-L’s parliamentary board will decide the party’s direction for the Mainpuri bypolls. One this is sure that whatever Shivpal ji will do was in sync and honour to Netaji’s (Mulayam’s) political legacy”.

Rampur’s situation looks a bit clearer than Mainpuri’s. It is likely that Azam would get his wife Tazeen Fatma or his daughter-in-law, wife of Suar MLA Abdullah Azam.

Tazeen had won the seat once in 2019 in bypolls when Azam had vacated it following his victory on the Rampur LS seat. Tazeen, 73, though is not keeping well. The SP had concluded that the party suffered the loss in the Rampur bypolls by not fielding anyone from the Azam family.

“Let’s see whom Azam Khan selects to contest the Rampur seat. He has a big family and also Rampur is his family,” said Virendra Goel, former district president of the SP.

Azam Khan won the seat 10 times and his wife Tazeen Fatma won it once. The BJP or Jan Sangh never won it.

It remains to be seen if the BJP fields Akash Saxena in the Rampur seat yet again. He had contested the seat in the 2022 polls against Azam and ended up as the first runner-up.

He also was the first one who wrote to the chief election commissioner, the Election Commission of India, seeking the termination of Azam Khan’s membership as the legislative assembly in the wake of Khan’s conviction and three-year jail term by the MP/MLA court.

Akash Saxena, 47, is the person who filed about 30 of the nearly 100 FIRs in Rampur against Khan. On the other hand, a Rampur royalty, Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, attempted to win the seat on a Congress ticket.

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    Pankaj Jaiswal is Chief of Bureau, Uttar Pradesh and covers politics. His continued interest in rural, distress, and development journalism, fetched him a handful of prestigious awards and fellowships. Pankaj is a photo-journalist too and tweets at @augustus29lotus

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