UP bypoll: BJP breaches Azam's Rampur fortress; Akhilesh demands re-election
Though the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh retained the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat traditionally held by the party's founder, Mulayam Singh Yadav, it lost a crucial Assembly seat—Rampur, which was a bastion of SP and veteran leader Azam Khan. The election saw a low voter turnout of merely 33% amid the SP accusing the administration of preventing its voters from reaching polling stations.
Why does this story matter?
- Azam Khan held the Rampur Assembly constituency since the 1980s by winning the seat a record 10 times.
- He was sentenced in October to three years in a 2019 hate speech case, leading to his disqualification from the Rampur Assembly seat, which necessitated a bypoll.
- He was convicted for "inciting communal violence" based on his comments on PM Narendra Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath.
Results prove Muslims feel safe under Yogi government: Akash Saxena
BJP's candidate Akash Saxena, a long-time rival of Khan and his family, defeated SP's Asim Raja, a close confidant of Khan, by over 33,000 votes. After his victory, Saxena said Rampur is the only seat in the country, after Kashmir, where Muslims are around 70% of the total population. The mandate proved that Muslims feel safe and respected under the Yogi government, he added.
BJP's Pasmanda pitch to bag Muslim votes
The BJP reportedly went all out to woo the Muslim community, which makes up around 65% of the electorate in Rampur, deputing former Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and UP's cabinet minister Danish Azad Ansari for poll campaign. Instead of resorting to religious polarization as in the previous elections, the BJP touted its Pasmanda outreach program for backward Muslim castes.
BJP earlier won Rampur and Azamgarh LS seat
In the run-up to the polls, BJP inducted Khan's long-time aide, Fasahat Ali Khan. Former Congress leader and Khan's rival, Kazim Ali Khan, also lent support to the BJP, following which he was expelled from Congress. The BJP counted on its success in the Lok Sabha bypolls earlier this year, in which it won Rampur and Azamgarh, both SP bastions.
'ECI didn't act against administration'
Meanwhile, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has petitioned to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for re-election on the Rampur seat. He said he was disappointed that the ECI didn't act against the administration despite repeated complaints. He further accused the administration of insulting and even manhandling its supporters. The UP government and Rampur district administration maintain that the bypoll was free and fair.
Who were the other winners
SP's Dimple Yadav won the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat by 2,88,136 votes. Of the six Assembly constituencies which went to bypolls, in UP the BJP won the Rampur seat but suffered a defeat to the Rashtriya Lok Dal in Khatauli. Congress retained power in Sardarshahar in Rajasthan and Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh. The ruling Biju Janata Dal secured a win in Padampur, Odisha.