The BJP on Thursday won the Rampur Assembly bypoll with its candidate Akash Saxena defeating Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Asim Raja by a margin of more than 33,000 votes.
Declaring Saxena as the winning candidate, Returning Officer and District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Mander said, “In the results for the bypoll, the BJP candidate Akash Saxena has been elected by a margin of more than 33,000 votes. The whole counting and polling process was peaceful, and it was done in an unbiased manner.”
The Rampur election was necessitated after senior SP leader Azam Khan was disqualified from the state Assembly after he was convicted in a 2019 hate speech case in October. While the SP nominated Azam Khan’s confidante Asim Raja as its candidate, the BJP picked Saxena, who had lost the seat to Khan in March this year. Saxena is a complainant against Khan and his family members in several cases.
There was a huge dip in voter turnout in Rampur – considered an Azam Khan stronghold – on Monday with the SP later alleging that voters were lathi-charged by police, and Muslim voters in particular were not allowed to cast votes. On the other hand, the BJP also submitted a memorandum to the chief election officer, accusing the SP of “spreading anarchy and influencing voting”.
The SP on Thursday repeated the allegations about police excesses and its “role in influencing the election” in Rampur.
Raja, who was leading in the early trends, spoke to mediapersons and said, “Early counting is of city areas. You can check the history of counting in these areas since independence…The early rounds where our lead was 5,000-6,000, the lead here used to be 50,000-60,000. It has always been the case. In February this year, our lead on these booths was 70,000. The work to bring this lead to 7,000 from 70,000 has been done by the khaki vardi (police). They should be ashamed. They have snatched the people’s right to vote with their power and their sticks. We have written to the Election Commission. If we don’t win, then the victory is of the Rampur police and I congratulate them.”
Before the polling on Monday, the SP and Azam Khan had alleged that police were conducting flag marches in the city to intimidate people who were SP supporters.
Azam Khan and his MLA son Abdullah Azam Khan had levelled allegations of harassment of people by police in Rampur and said that the police force is threatening people to not vote for the party.
Speaking at a late-night press interaction on November 26, Azam Khan had said, “…I am thinking that when Akhilesh Yadav ji comes here, then I will request him that he should ask the Election Commission to announce the BJP candidate as the winner. What is the need for the election when the election is not happening? The kind of terror there is. There are flag marches in lanes. I have video recordings where it is openly being said that people should not leave their houses and if they vote for the SP, their houses will be vacated…”
The police had denied the allegations and have said that flag marches are a part of directions by the Election Commission of India and that no one is being harassed.