Takes key regional meeting to Mulayam’s Mainpuri, lays ground for bypoll
Lucknow: A resurgent BJP has set its sights on one of the seven seats the NDA did not win in Uttar Pradesh — Mainpuri, home turf of Mulayam Singh Yadav who has surrendered the seat while retaining Azamgarh. On July 8, the BJP is set to make a symbolic gesture by holding a meeting of its Braj region executive committee in Mainpuri, where it has already started laying the groundwork for the bypoll. Such meetings, held one or more times every year, have invariably taken place in Mathura in the past.
Purushottam Khandelwal, BJP president for Braj region, said the meeting will be held either in Mainpuri or Agra, but Mainpuri district president Shivdatt Bhadauriya said Madhav Guest House in Mainpuri is already being prepared. Khandelwal too indicated Mainpuri is the first choice: “The meeting site will be ideal to target the SP president and the failures of the Akhilesh Yadav government. There is public resentment against Mulayam because he surrendered Mainpuri, where he got more votes than in Azamgarh.”
Mulayam is expected to field his grand-nephew Tej Pratap Singh in the byelection. Braj’s eight seats include another one that the BJP lost — Firozabad, won by Mulayam’s nephew Akshay Yadav. Of the region’s 40 assembly seats, only three — Agra North, Agra South and Firozabad Sadar —have a BJP MLA.
The meeting will have all senior national leaders who hail from the region — MPs MLAs, mayors, chairpersons of municipal bodies — as well as the state BJP president, the state in-charge, and BJP national vice-president Kalyan Singh who hails from Braj.
Khandelwal said the meeting will plan an election strategy, with the BJP having completed an initial review for an organisational setup, including booth-level teams.
There is, however, a three-way contest for the ticket,. Among the contenders are the two candidates Mulayam defeated — S S Chauhan in Mainpuri and Ramakant Yadav in Azamgarh. Chauhan has already started campaigning while Ramakant has sent a team to prepare the ground for his candidature. Also keen is folk singer Tripti Shakya, who had lost to Mulayam in the 2009 contest for Mainpuri.
“I have 2.5 lakh voters behind me. Ramakant Yadav will not be able to win here. Tripti Shakya contested in 2009 and lost badly,” Chauhan said. Ramakant said nearly 1,200 workers are on the ground. garnering support for him. He said he will start campaigning personally once the party announces his candidature. And Tripti too said she has planned her campaign and will launch it once the BJP clears her candidature. “I have been in touch with voters and they want me to contest,” she said.
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