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Newsmaker | Guddu Jamali, the BSP candidate who marred SP’s chances in Azamgarh

In his campaign, the two-time MLA played up his ‘local’ status while painting his rivals from SP and BJP as ‘outsiders’.

Two-time MLA Shah Alam, popularly known as Guddu Jamali, campaigning in Azamgarh. (Express photo by Lalmani Verma)

He is a two-time MLA, and on Sunday Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Shah Alam, popularly known as Guddu Jamali, lost the Azamgarh Lok Sabha by-election but made the biggest impact.

Jamali garnered 2.66 lakh votes, with a vote share of 29.27 per cent, effectively damaging the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) chances of retaining the seat that its president Akhilesh Yadav had won in 2019 with a 60.36 per cent vote share. The SP had contested the election in alliance with the BSP. With Jamali, 49, putting in a strong performance, the SP saw its vote share slide to 33.44 per cent even as the BJP almost held on to its vote share, which dipped marginally to 34.39 per cent. The SP ultimately lost to the BJP by 8,679 votes.

The former MLA had garnered exactly 29.27 per cent votes (2.66 lakh votes) in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but finished third behind the SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and the BJP’s Ramakant Yadav. At the time, Jamali was the legislator from Mubarakpur, having won in the state elections two years earlier. He retained the seat in 2017 too but quit the party in 2021, a few months after being appointed the leader of the BSP in the Assembly. He approached the SP leadership for a state election ticket this time but was denied. He contested the election for the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and though he lost, he polled 36,460 votes to finish fourth.

A few days after the poll results, Jamali returned to the BSP and in March party president Mayawati announced him as the candidate from Azamgarh. With an almost two-month headstart on his rivals from other parties, Jamali got down to work and started reaching out to voters. Jamali’s candidature was part of the BSP’s strategy to consolidate Dalit and Muslim votes.

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Though he managed to make an impact, many BSP leaders were surprised that he did not manage to win the election. “Jamali is a local leader. He helped people with free oxygen cylinders and food during the pandemic. He has a connection with everyone. He helps everyone. He got the votes of Muslims and Dalits and he lost because most backward castes did not vote for him and those went to the BJP,” said a local BSP leader.

The former MLA is a prominent real-estate developer who runs a construction business in various parts of India and abroad. In his campaign, he played up his “local” status and painted the SP and BJP candidates as “outsiders”. His campaign seemed to work as both BJP candidate Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirahua” and the SP’s Dharmendra Yadav spent time developing connections with local people by engaging leaders from the area.

Jamali is MBA from a Delhi-based institute and completed his graduation in commerce from Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi.

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First published on: 26-06-2022 at 11:04:47 pm
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