Nominations to the seven Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh have been completed; a total 93 candidates are in the fray for the elections on November 3. The BJP won six of these seven seats in the landslide election of 2017, most of these wins being the first for the party at these seats in over a decade.
The BJP’s task in the byelections will be more difficult. Before starting his campaign meetings in Bihar, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has met party workers at each of these seven seats.
What are the issues being raised by the Opposition?
It is evident that on all the seats, the Opposition is targeting the government on the issue of law and order — especially crime against women and the recent spate of alleged caste crimes in the state.
Among the seats going to polls is Bangarmau, where the vacancy arose because the BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was convicted of rape and murder. “It is not just in one place; crime against women has been on the rise right from Hathras (in Western UP) to the districts of Eastern UP, and it is evident that the state government has failed to protect women and girls,” Arti Bajpai, Congress candidate for the Bangarmau seat, said.
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How has the BJP reacted to these allegations?
At a virtual meeting, Chief Minister Adityanath asked party workers in the seven constituencies to not get demoralised by the Opposition’s attacks, and instead counter them with a list of the government’s development works.
The BJP has been trying to paint the recent incidents of crime that grabbed national headlines as a “conspiracy” hatched by the Opposition. The Chief Minister has warned that the government was trying to identify the conspirators, and that strict action would be taken against them.
“Vikas se denge vipaksh ki jatiyata ka jawab (We will reply to the casteism of the Opposition with development),” the CM said in an interaction with party workers from the Tundla (reserved) seat on October 5. He urged the workers to not be bothered by the “dirt” thrown at the government by the Opposition — “Vipaksh ke keechad ki parwaah na karein”.
Besides seeking to boost the morale of BJP workers and underlining the “conspiracy” of the Opposition to defame the government, the CM has in all his interactions, listed the development projects undertaken by the state and central governments. He has talked of the state government’s expressways projects: during an interaction with workers of Bulandshahr, he talked about the Ganga Expressway, while speaking with the workers of central and Eastern UP seats like Malhani, Ghatampur, and Deoria, he harped on the Purvanchal Expressway.
The CM has also been talking about central government schemes such as gas connections, and the initiatives taken for migrant workers, etc.
Who are the candidates fielded by the various parties?
Interestingly, while Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra downward have been attacking the Yogi government for crimes perpetrated on Dalits, the party has fielded Brahmin candidates at three of the five general seats going to polls. Thus, besides Bajpai in Bangarmau, there is Mukund Bhaskar Mani Tripathi at Deoria, and Rakesh Mishra at the Malhani seat.
BSP has gone back to a tactic it has used in the past, giving tickets to Muslim candidates at the two Western UP seats of Bulandshahr (Mohammed Yunus) and Naugawan Sadat (Furqan Ahmed).
At Bulandshahr, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has fielded Praveen Kumar Singh, and the BJP has given the ticket to Usha Sirohi, wife of former MLA Virendra Singh Sirohi, whose death in March has led to the byelection. The AIMIM too, has put up a candidate in Bulandshahr.
At Naugawan Sadat, the SP has fielded Javed Abbas, who came second to the BJP’s Chetan Chauhan in 2017, while the BJP ticket has gone to Sangeeta Chauhan, the wife of the former India opener whose death from Covid-19 in August created the vacancy. The SP is, in fact banking largely on leaders with a past record of performance.
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Out of the seven Assembly seats going to polls, the SP had won only one — Malhani — in 2017. The death of its MLA and veteran leader Parasnath Yadav in June has led to the byelection. The SP has given the ticket to the young Lucky Yadav, the son of Parasnath Yadav, who faces a challenge from the don-politician Independent candidate Dhananjay Singh. Singh, who had contested the 2017 election as a candidate of the Nishad Party, got over 21,000 votes and was runners-up to Parasnath Yadav of SP.
The BJP, whose campaign message has focussed on the alleged conspiracy by the Opposition to malign the government, and claims of development, has tried to give representation to OBCs, Brahmins, Thakurs, as well as the Dhangar (herding) community.
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