The INDIA opposition alliance held its third meeting in Mumbai on September 2 and 3 (File).
Days after the INDIA opposition alliance said it would contest future elections "together as far as possible", the 28-member bloc is on the eve of one of its first electoral tests - the Ghosi bypoll in eastern Uttar Pradesh, which has seen the Congress, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) and Left parties turn out in support of the Samajwadi Party candidate.
Speaking to reporters ahead of polling on Tuesday, SP boss Akhilesh Yadav declared that the people of Ghosi had made up their minds to hand his party's candidate a "record win". "Nothing remains for BJP in Ghosi by-elections because the people have decided our candidate - Sudhakar Singh, who takes care of people - will be victorious with record number of votes," the ex-UP Chief Minister said.
Akhilesh Yadav also hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party and its heavyweight campaign to reclaim the Ghosi seat, which has included controversial speeches by the current CM - Yogi Adityanath. "No matter which ministers go (to Ghosi)... result won't change. Instead, they (the BJP) should answer this - in 10 years of government at centre and six in UP, what development took place?"
He also accused the BJP of profiting off infrastructure work by his party, which formed the government twice before Yogi Adityanath secured consecutive terms. "Today... every house has electricity because of Samajwadi Party, which built infrastructure. All BJP did was set up meters and send exorbitant bills."
Days later, at a rally in Mau district, within which the Ghosi seat is located, Yogi Adityanath hit back, reminding people of the 2005 riots, when the Samajwadi Party was in power.
"Ghosi by-poll is important. Only they can understand the importance polls who witnessed the 2005 Mau riots closely. (Then) the Samajwadi Party was ruling the government..."
Ghosi Bypoll Details
The Ghosi bypoll was necessitated after the sitting lawmaker, Dara Singh Chauhan, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party from ex-UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party. The SP has fielded Sudhakar Singh - an "upper caste" leader and veteran who won this seat in 2012.
Mr Chauhan had joined the Samajwadi Party in January 2022 after resigning from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's cabinet shortly before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
Voters from marginalised classes will likely play a decisive role in this bypoll, given that more than 25 per cent of total voters on the rolls in Ghosi are from those communities.
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Of the nearly 4.38 lakh voters in Ghosi, 90,000 are Muslims, 60,000 Dalits and 77,000 are from so-called "upper castes", including around 6,000 Brahmins, news agency PTI reported.
The BJP will be hoping the return of Mr Chauhan, seen as a key OBC leader, will help reclaim this seat. This time it has deployed top state leaders, including Yogi Adityanath, to oust the Samajwadi Party, which has won this seat in two of the past three elections.
Akhilesh Yadav also campaigned here and his party's strategy of combining backward, scheduled community and minority community votes has been led by Shivpal Yadav, his once estranged uncle.
Importance Of Ghosi Bypoll
The result of the Ghosi bypoll will have no impact on the ruling BJP's fortunes in the UP Assembly but it could provide an insight into INDIA's pull in next year's Lok Sabha poll.
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UP sends 80 MPs to the Lower House of Parliament, making it a battleground state.
Bypolls to seven Assembly seats, including UP's Ghosi, will be held on September 5 with results due three days later. Also on the list of bypolls is the Kerala seat held by Congress veteran Oommen Chandy, who represented the Puthuppally seat for over half a century.