The bypoll to the Hamirpur assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh is all set to witness a four-cornered contest, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party and the Congress fielding their candidates for the election.
The by-election, the first to be held after the Lok Sabha polls, has been necessitated due to the disqualification of sitting BJP MLA Ashok Kumar Singh Chandel following his conviction in a murder case.
Nine candidates are in the fray and the prominent among them are Yuwraj Singh (BJP), Hardeepak Nishad (Congress), Manoj Kumar Prajapati (SP), Naushad Ali (BSP) and Jamal Alam Mansoori (Communist Party of India).
Rival political parties will be trying their best to snatch the seat from the BJP and send a strong signal to the electorate of the other 12 assembly constituencies, where by-elections are due.
With the electoral alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party ending in a divorce, the bypolls to the assembly seats have become a four-sided affair.
The recent elections in the state were saw the Samajwadi Party having a tie-up with the Congress in the 2017 assembly election and with the Bahujan Samaj Party in 2019 Lok Sabha election.
In the 2014 general election, the BJP, Congress, SP, BSP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal contested individually in the state.
The Congress state media management committee member, Lalan Kumar, exuded confidence that the party would perform well in the bypolls under the leadership Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the party general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
"You have seen the performance of the SP and the BSP in the Lok Sabha election. If there is any viable alternate to the BJP in the state, it is the Congress," Mr Kumar said. "By-election is only a small trailer and the real picture will be visible in the 2022 UP assembly election, when the Congress will emerge victorious."
Mr Kumar said the party had already embarked on a house-to-house contact. "We are fighting for the poor, farmers, Dalits and almost every section of the society."
The Samajwadi Party is also optimistic about the party's prospects.
"Like the bypolls to Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana parliamentary constituencies and the Noorpur assembly seat, the results of the upcoming by-elections will also spring a surprise and the SP will grab the lion's share of seats," party leader and former state minister Arvind Singh Gope said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, said the picture would be different this time.
"In the previous bypolls, there was a feeling that we had secured a big win and thought that the people of the state will be with us," state BJP media co-convenor Navin Srivastava said.
Mr Srivastava acknowledged that there was some laxity, but the shortcomings were removed by the general election. "Our target is to bag the seats held by rival parties, such as Rampur (held by SP) and Jalalpur (held by BSP)."
He claimed that even if the SP and the BSP join hands, they would not be able to damage the BJP.
"People of UP have rejected outright the politics of caste and family in 2014, 2017 and 2019," Mr Srivastava said. "So, irrespective of the fact they contest individually or jointly, people know that these parties are casteist and dynastic (in nature)."
Apart from Hamirpur, bypolls will also be held on 12 other assembly seats, whose the poll itinerary is yet to be announced.
Polling in Hamirpur will be held on September 23 and the counting of votes will be held on September 27. Bypolls are to be held in 11 assembly seats of the state after sitting legislators were elected as parliamentarians.