UP bypolls: BJP, SP accuse each other of stopping people from voting, polling sluggish in Rampur


Rampur: Bypoll in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur assembly segment witnessed sluggish polling with only 26.32 per cent votes cast till 3 pm on Monday. While 44.13 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in Mainpuri Lok Sabha bypoll till 3 pm, the voting percentage in the Khatauli assembly bye-election was 40.2 per cent. The voting began at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm. The BJP and Samajwadi Party, the two main contenders have been accusing each other of disrupting the electoral process. 

The Samajwadi Party, on its official Twitter handle, alleged that the police force was being used and officials on election duty were preventing people from casting their votes, especially in Rampur.

In a video posted on the microblogging site, it alleged that BJP agents were distributing money in Mainpuri’s Bhogaon area. At a press conference in Saifai, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav accused the BJP government of misusing the official machinery. He alleged that the Rampur administration and the police were not allowing people to come out and vote.

BJP state president Bhupinder Singh Chaudhary, however, said, “The Samajwadi Party is making baseless allegations as it is going to taste defeat in all the three seats.” On the other hand, the BJP too took to Twitter to allege that in some booths, “unscrupulous elements of the Samajwadi Party” were preventing people from casting their votes and sought the Election Commission’s intervention.

A delegation of the ruling party also met the state chief electoral officer and handed over a memorandum. The bypolls are witnessing a direct contest between the ruling BJP and the opposition Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance. The BSP and Congress are not in the fray.

In a tweet, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appealed to the people “to vote for security, development and good governance”. As many as 24.43 lakh people — 13.14 lakh men, 11.29 lakh women and 132 third gender — are eligible to exercise their franchise in Mainpuri parliamentary and Rampur and Khatauli Assembly bypolls.

The by-election to the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat is taking place due to the death of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. The Rampur Sadar and Khatauli Assembly bypolls were necessitated after Samajwadi Party MLA Azam Khan and BJP legislator Vikram Singh Saini were disqualified following their conviction in separate cases.

While Khan was disqualified from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly after a court awarded him a three-year imprisonment in a 2019 hate-speech case, Saini was disqualified following his conviction in a case related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

Following defeats in Azamgarh and the Rampur Lok Sabha bypoll, considered the Samajwadi party bastions, the Mainpuri parliamentary and Rampur and Khatauli Assembly by-elections have become crucial for the Akhilesh Yadav-led party.

Six candidates are in the fray in Mainpuri, 14 in Khatauli and 10 in Rampur Sadar, according to the Election Commission. In Mainpuri, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav is pitted against BJP’s Raghuraj Singh Shakya, once a close associate of Shivpal Singh Yadav.

Shakya joined the BJP ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls held earlier this year. In Rampur Sadar Assembly segment, the BJP has fielded Akash Saxena, the son of former party legislator Shiv Bahadur Saxena, against Azam Khan’s protege Asim Raja.

In Khatauli, the fight is between Vikram Singh Saini’s wife Rajkumari Saini and Madan Bhaiya of the Rashtriya Lok Dal. The counting of votes is on December 8.

The outcomes of the bypolls will not have any impact on the Central or the state governments as the BJP enjoys a comfortable majority at both levels. However, a win would provide a psychological advantage ahead of the 2024 parliamentary elections.

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