Updated: February 3, 2016 12:52:22 pm
The BJP seems to be pulling out all the stops for the Muzaffarnagar Assembly bypoll scheduled for February 13.
The party is roping in pro-Hindu faces from western UP, including Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, MP Hukum Singh and MLAs Suresh Rana and Sangeet Singh Som to campaign. All four have been named in cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.
Sources said these leaders have been brought in to counter Congress candidate Salmaan Saeed, who too has been accused of giving a hate speech at a mahapanchayat that was held before the riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar.
Union Minister Smriti Irani is also likely to address a public meeting in support of party candidate Kapil Dev in Muzaffarnagar. While bypolls are also scheduled to be held in Deoband and Bikapur (Faizabad) on February 13, BJP seems to be concentrating more on Muzaffarnagar.
While local MP and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan is visiting Muzaffarnagar regularly, Kairana MP Hukum Singh too is canvassing for Kapil Dev. Party MLA from Thana Bhawan (Shamli) Suresh Rana and Sardhana (Meerut) MLA Sangeet Singh Som will begin their campaign from February 5.
BJP’s Muzaffarnagar district president Satyapal said: “People want to hear Suresh Rana and Sangeet Singh Som because of their aggressive image…”
Claiming that BJP has engaged these leaders for canvassing and not to polarise voters on communal lines, he added: “The party is contesting the polls on development issues and targeting the SP government on its failure on law and order and development fronts.” When contacted, Suresh Rana said he would raise the issue of appeasement of a particular community by the SP government. “A particular community tries to dominate others. Only that section is getting benefits of most state-run welfare schemes,” he alleged.
In Deoband, where BJP has fielded RSS man Rampal Pundir, Union Minister of State Santosh Gangwar campaigned on Monday. Party’s Saharanpur district president Manveer Pundir said Hukum Singh was holding meetings regularly in the area. “While Suresh Rana will campaign on Wednesday, Som will also visit soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, the party has left the responsibility of the Bikarpur bypoll on local leaders. To campaign for party candidate Ram Krishna Tiwari, BJP has engaged Faizabad MP Lallu Singh, Kaiserganj MP Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, Ambedkar Nagar MP Hariom, Barabanki MP Priyanka Rawat and Bahraich MP Sadhvi Savitri Bai. Tiwari, who has been associated with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, is not raising the issue while campaigning. “Ram temple is in the heart of party workers. But here, BJP’s agenda is the achievement of the Modi government versus corruption of Akhilesh regime,” he added. Asked why the party was only focussing on Muzaffaranagar, BJP state vice-president and in-charge for Bikapur bypoll, Shiv Pratap Shukla, said: “The party is giving equal attention to all three seats. Leaders are being engaged for campaigning according to local social equations.”
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