Uttar Pradesh bypolls for five seats Saturday

April 11th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Lucknow, April 11 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh will hold bypolls for two parliamentary and three assembly seats Saturday that is being seen as a mini trial run for the general elections scheduled next year. Although four main political parties - the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress - are in the fray, the in most of the seats the contest is largely between the BSP and Samajwadi Party.

With many defections witnessed in the run up to the polls, the key players are banking heavily on their personal caste support base that is likely to dominate the scene.

The Lok Sabha constituencies are Azamgarh and Khalilabad, while the assembly seats are Bilgram, Karnailganj and Murad Nagar.

Azamgarh will witness a triangular contest between the BSP, Samajwadi Party and the BJP.

Interestingly, while some of the candidates remain the same, they have donned new political caps.

The most dramatic is the scene in Azamgarh where nominees of both BSP and BJP had changed sides sometime ago.

In the 2004 general elections, BSP’s Akbar Ahmad ‘Dumpy’ had contested on a Congress ticket, while BJP’s Rama Kant Yadav was the BSP nominee. After winning the election on a BSP ticket, Yadav defected to the Samajwadi Party after which he was disqualified by the Lok Sabha speaker, necessitating the by-poll.

However, due to some personal differences with Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, Yadav was denied a party ticket this time. Since he did not see any hope of rapprochement with BSP chief Mayawati, who had earlier expelled him from the party, he chose to fall in with the BJP.

The trend is visible in Khalilabad too and to some extent in the assembly seats as well.

The by-election to Khalilabad too was necessitated after then BSP MP Bhalchand Yadav was disqualified for defecting to the Samajwadi Party. His main rival Bhishm Shankar Tiwari, the elder son of mafia don-turned-politician Hari Shankar Tiwari, has switched to the BSP from the Congress.

During the 2004 general elections, Tiwari was Samajwadi Party nominee and lost to Bhalchand Yadav by a margin of just 27,000 votes. Ram Prasad Chaudhury, the then BJP nominee, who had given a tough fight to Bhalchand Yadav by getting 180,000 votes, has since switched loyalties to the BSP. He is now the minister of food and civil supplies in the Mayawati government.

By-election for the Karnailganj assembly seat in Gonda district was ordered after sitting Congress MLA Ajay Pratap Singh alias Lalla Bhaiya caused major embarrassment to the Congress by accusing the party of being “anti-Dalit” after crossing over to BSP on the floor of the house during the last state budget session.

Notorious for his alleged criminal antecedents, Ajay Pratap Singh was amply rewarded. His sister Kunwari Brij Singh has been given the BSP ticket from Karnailganj.

Independent MLA Rajpal Tyagi, who was a minister in the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, is the BSP candidate for the Muradnagar assembly seat now.

Rajni Tiwari, the BSP nominee for Bilgram assembly seat, was among the few in the current fray without a party-hopper or turncoat tag. Widow of sitting BSP MLA, Upendra Tiwari, she became the ruling party’s first choice when her husband died in a road accident. Perhaps it was her loyalty to her husband’s party that is seen as her strong point and is expected to see her sail through.

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