With 10 days to go for the by-elections for 11 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP appears more focussed and strategic in its campaigning, while BSP chief Mayawati is unlikely to hit the campaign trail and the Samajwadi Party (SP) is still unsure whether party president Akhilesh Yadav will be canvassing.
Congress local leaders, too, are not sure whether party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will campaign in UP. Newly appointed state Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu said, “We are hoping she will come. It depends on her schedule.”
In contrast, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will lead the campaign for the BJP, addressing election rallies in each of the 11 constituencies. State ministers, MLAs and party office-bearers have already been assigned specific responsibilities related to campaigning, and the leaders are camping at their assigned constituencies for the last one month, state BJP vice-president and election management in-charge J P S Rathore told The Indian Express on Friday.
The bypolls will be held on October 21 and the results announced on October 24.
Rathore said Adityanath will address rallies in all 11 constituencies for three days starting October 15.
“On October 15, the CM will address election meetings in Kanpur’s Govindnagar, Chitrakoot’s Manikpur, Lucknow’s Cantonment and Pratapgarh’s Sadar constituencies. On the following two days, he will hold rallies in four and three seats, respectively,” Rathore said.
The two deputy chief ministers — Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma — are already campaigning, he added.
Jalalpur and Rampur Khaas seats, in Ambedkar Nagar and Rampur districts, respectively, are the only seats vacated by BSP and SP candidates – Ritesh Pandey and Azam Khan, respectively. Both won in the Lok Sabha polls. The other seats are were won by the saffron party in 2017.
Asked whether BJP’s national leaders will take part in the by-election campaigning, Rathore said, “The national leadership is occupied with Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra.”
Rathore also said, “One state minister and state unit office-bearer has been assigned a constituency (each); four MLAs and as many office-bearers have been assigned to each constituency to manage election affairs. For the last one month, they are holding conventions for different groups such as youths, women and people belonging to the Dalit community in almost all constituencies.”
About the main issues the BJP will bring up in the campaign, Rathore said, “Our main issue will be public welfare carried out by the state and Central governments. Then there are the issues of nationalism, including (abrogation of special status under) Article 370, surgical strikes, etc.”
The Samajwadi Party, meanwhile, has assigned two senior leaders for organisational work in each constituency, who, a senior party leader explained, are reporting to Askhilesh “directly” on the situation on ground over the last one month. While a senior leader said Akhilesh will not campaign for the bypolls, SP national spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary said a decision on that is yet to be taken.
Choudhary said Akhilesh has issued a written appeal to all voters in all 11 constituencies and is “looking after the preparations directly” by holding regular meetings with party workers.
A senior BSP leader told The Indian Express that Mayawati will address rallies in Haryana and Maharashtra but will skip Uttar Pradesh. “The polls in the other states are more important (than the bypolls in UP) for the party at the moment,” the leader said. According to this leader, BSP national coordinator and Mayawati’s nephew Akash Anand will also not participate in the by-election campaigning.
State Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said, “All senior leaders in the state have been assigned constituencies where they are working on ground. The leaders were assigned constituencies on directions from Priyanka Gandhi. The star campaigners will soon start campaigning. All our MLAs are our star campaigners, and former state president Raj Babbar will also be our star campaigner.”
Besides, Kumar said, senior Congress leaders from UP P L Punia, Imran Masood, and Pramod Tewari, among others, will also take part in campaigning.