The ruling BJP, after scoring big in back-to-back national elections in Uttar Pradesh, is first off the block in planning for by-elections in 13 assembly seats in the next few months.
The BJP's working president JP Nadda yesterday had a meeting with all parliamentarians from the state and newly-appointed Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh.
Eleven of the seats fell vacant because the lawmakers were elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent national election. A by-poll will be held in the 12th seat, Hamitpur, because the BJP legislator has been disqualified after a murder conviction.
The BJP held nine of the 12 seats. Rampur was with the Samajwadi Party, Ambedkar Nagar with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and BJP ally Apna Dal held Pratapgarh. As part of its push to retain or take the seats, the ruling party has assigned constituencies to various state ministers.
Each seat also has an MP working on the campaign. The BJP, say sources, doesn't want to take any chances because these bypolls are almost a test ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections due in 2022.
The BJP hopes to win all the seats in a four-cornered contest in which its rivals, the Samajwadi Party, BSP and Congress, are contesting separately.
The Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav and the BSP of Mayawati are no longer together after their failed alliance for the national election.
Last year, the two parties teamed up successfully to snag three BJP parliamentary seats in bypolls, Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana. The success inspired Mayawati and Akhilesh to extend their partnership to the Lok Sabha polls, but their opposition gathbandhan flopped miserably against the BJP's might and organizational superiority.
The BJP learnt its lesson when it lost its strongholds just a year after it won the state election.
Mr Nadda has asked BJP parliamentarians to ensure that the benefit of various central government schemes percolates to beneficiaries at every level; the party believes the schemes played a big role in its election win.
Union ministers Smriti Irani, Mahendra Nath Pandey and Sanjeev Baliyan attended the meeting.