Bypolls for 3 LS seats in UP, MP today
Bypolls to three Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and two assembly seats in UP will be held on Saturday. The contests will serve as a crucial trial of strength ahead of next year’s general elections.
Polling will be held for the Betul Lok Sabha seat in MP and for the Azamgarh and Khalilabad LS seats in UP.
The Betul bypoll seems to be the big prize with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP and Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath of the Congress each addressing over 50 election meetings over the past fortnight. A loss here will be a big blow to the CM, especially with polls in the state in October-November.
The bypoll was necessitated by the demise of five-time BJP MP Vijay Khandelwal. The party has fielded Khandelwal’s son Hemant. The Congress is going with sitting Masod MLA Sukhdeo Panse. The Samajwadi Party candidate, Dr Sunilam, is also a strong contender. The BJP faces an uphill battle in the state, given the stinging reverses it has suffered in past bypolls, which reflect the anti-incumbent sentiments of the electorate.
In Azamgarh and Khalilabad, the main contest is expected to be between the BSP and SP. However, the BJP and Congress are also running high-voltage campaigns.
Chief Minister Mayawati and SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav are throwing all they have against each other as these results would send a clear message to voters across the state ahead of the general elections.
At Azamgarh, the SP has fielded former minister Balram Singh Yadav while the BSP has given its ticket to former MP Akbar Ahmed Dumpy. In Khalilabad, the SP candidate is Bhalchandra Yadav while the BSP has gone with Bhishm Shankar.
UP will also see polling in two assembly seats, where the entire opposition is using the elections to test the waters against Mayawati.