WITH 11 Vidhan Sabha seats set to got to the polls Monday, it was the BJP that appeared to have been more strategic and thorough during the campaigning, which concluded Saturday evening. While Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati did not campaign for the bypolls, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav only campaigned in Rampur where MP Azam Khan’s wife Tazeen Fatma is contesting. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also did not take part in the campaign.
Polling for 11 seats in Uttar Pradesh – Gangoh, Rampur, Iglas(SC), Lucknow Cantonment, Govindnagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur (SC), Jalalpur, Balha (SC) and Ghosi seats – will be held on Monday. A total of 41.08 lakh people are likely to cast their vote.
Eight of the 11 seats – going to polls owing to MLAs getting elected to the Lok Sabha in May – were held by the BJP, while one seat was held by its ally Apna Dal, one seat by the the BSP and one was with SP. There are a total of 109 candidates in the fray for the 11 seats. There will be a total of 4,529 polling booths and 2,307 polling centres in the 11 Vidhan Sabha seats. A statement issued by state Chief Election Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of polls. “Paramilitary forces have been deployed at all places where bypolls are being held. At 429 critical booths, webcasting will be done,” said the statement.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held rallies in all constituencies and also, instructed senior BJP leaders, including the UP bypolls two deputy CMs, to campaign for the bypolls. State ministers, MLAs and party office-bearers were earlier assigned specific responsibilities related to campaigning and the leaders camped at their assigned constituencies over the past month. Meanwhile, Akhilesh and Mayawati also instructed senior leaders of their respective parties to organise public meetings in places where bypolls were held and assigned specific responsibilities to senior leaders.
SP spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary had told The Indian Express that Akhilesh had issued a written appeal to all voters in all 11 constituencies and was “looking after the preparations directly” by holding regular meetings with party workers. Senior BJP leaders said it was important for the BJP to win all seats in order to ensure that the perception that people support the party’s policies at the Centre and state remains intact.
It will be interesting to see how the Congress performs in the bypolls under the guidance of Priyanka Gandhi, who reportedly handpicked all its candidates for the bypolls. However, the party’s senior leadership remained absent during the campaign. Former state chief Raj Babbar, who was named as a star campaigner, was also absent during the canvassing for party candidates.
Senior Congress leader P L Punia also restricted himself to the campaign for his son Tanuj Punia, who is contesting from Zaidpur in Barabanki district.