Bypolls are being held for 11 assembly constituencies across Uttar Pradesh amid tight security, with the BJP seemingly at an advantage in the light of lacklustre election campaigns by its political competitors. While eight of the seats in question were earlier held by the BJP and one by its Apna Dal ally, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had one each.
The Samajwadi Party is contesting from all 11 seats across Uttar Pradesh, but its chief - Akhilesh Yadav - held just one election rally in the Rampur assembly constituency. He was campaigning on behalf of party leader Tazeen Fatma after it was left vacant due to her husband, Azam Khan, moving to the Lok Sabha.
Incidentally, the Uttar Pradesh police have filed as many as 84 criminal cases against Azam Khan's family on charges ranging from land grab to theft over the last few months.
Mayawati's BSP is also contesting all 11 seats, not in alliance with the Samajwadi Party this time, but the former Chief Minister has not even made a pretense of campaigning this time round. When asked to explain, her party clarified that Mayawati does not believe in campaigning for by-elections.
The Congress, which has got a new state party chief in Ajay Kumar Lallu and a new set of office-bearers, is also contesting from all 11 seats. A good showing in the polls, even in terms of votes polled, will be a morale booster for the party after its disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP's campaign was spearheaded by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who targeted the opposition on national issues such as the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status at his rallies.
The political fortunes of 109 candidates will be decided in the bypolls to the assembly seats of Gangoh, Rampur, Iglas (SC), Lucknow Cantonment, Govindnagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur (SC), Jalalpur, Balha (SC) and Ghosi. The contest for the Lucknow Cantonment seat, a BJP stronghold left vacant after BJP MLA Rita Joshi's elevation to the Lok Sabha, will be one of the most watched. It comes days after the murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, leader of the Hindu Samaj Party, in another part of the city.
The bypolls in Uttar Pradesh were necessitated after a number of MLAs moved to the Lok Sabha by emerging victorious in the general elections earlier this year. The assembly constituency of Ghosi fell vacant after sitting MLA Phagu Chauhan was appointed as the Bihar governor.
Of the 41.08 lakh registered voters, 22.13 lakh are men, 18.94 lakh are women and 138 are third gender voters.