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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

UP by-elections: Yogi goes for the kill this time, arch rivals conspicuous by absence

lucknow Updated: Oct 19, 2019 21:48 IST

If campaigning for the by-elections in the state is any indication, then the BJP looks to be the only party going for the kill.

Sample this: Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has covered all the eleven UP assembly by-poll constituencies--a few of them twice over.

His arch rival Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav began and ended his campaign in Rampur, skipping all the other constituencies. He was there twice to campaign for party candidate Tazeen Fatima, wife of Rampur MP Azam Khan.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati, on the other hand, has stayed busy campaigning mainly outside the state--Maharashtra and Haryana state polls, not campaign for UP by-polls at all.

Saturday was the last day for campaigning. Polling is to be held on Monday and results will be out on October 24.

In fact, apart from pitching in for his party in Maharashtra and Haryana, Yogi managed to cover all the 11 constituencies in three neatly planned schedules-- October 15, October 16, and October 18.

The constituencies where voting will be held on Monday are Gangoh in Saharanpur, Rampur Sadar in Rampur, Lucknow Cantt in Lucknow, Govindnagar in Kanpur, Manikpur in Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh Sadar in Pratapgarh, Jalalpur in Ambedkar Nagar, Ghosi in Mau, and three reserved seats Iglas in Hathras, Zaidpur in Barabanki, and Balha in Bahraich.

Barring Rampur and Jalalpur, which were held by the SP and BSP respectively, all other seats were held by the BJP.

Yogi strategically decided to end his campaign in Rampur, a seat that the BJP never has won. Akhilesh held his only poll rally in Rampur the day after Yogi’s (October 19) as he did not want to concede the seat to the BJP just like that.

Though the Congress has no seat to defend, it is contesting all the 11 seats. Its only star campaigner in the poll is a relatively unfamiliar face, the new UP Congress Committee president Ajay Kumar ‘Lallu’.

On why Akhilesh did not campaign much this time, a senior SP leader said: “He put the state president Naresh Uttam Patel in the pivotal role for this elections. Naresh campaigned hard this time and has been to all the constituencies.”

The scenario this bypolls vis a vis 2018’s is quite different. Then, Akhilesh had campaigned in all the four constituencies--Gorakhpur and Phulpur (Lok Sabha) and Kairana and Noorpur (Assembly)--and won them all. BSP did not contest the polls then and supported the SP-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance. “Now, the BJP again has the edge as it has in front a divided opposition. Mayawati, who generally does not contest bypolls, has fielded candidates time. Perhaps, Akhilesh is not wasting energy and instead focused only on defending Rampur,” he said.

In the recent assembly bypolls on Hamirpur seat, result of which came on September 27, BJP won comfortably. The SP came second -- the combined vote share of SP and BSP was higher than the winner BJP.

Akhilesh and Mayawati had not campaigned in Hamirpur too.