The Bharatiya Janata Party on November 15, 2022 declared its candidates for the upcoming bypolls in Uttar Pradesh. Raghuraj Shakya, a former two-term parliamentarian, will contest from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat against Samajwadi Party (SP) nominee Dimple Yadav.
A former Samajwadi Party MLA, Mr. Shakya switched sides to the BJP after the fracas in the Yadav family in 2017. The election is being held after the seat became vacant after the demise of Samajwadi Party founder and former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Mr. Shakya, who was elected for Lok Sabha in 1999 and 2004 from Etawah, was once a close associate of Shivpal Singh Yadav and has joined the saffron fold after being denied the Assembly ticket by the SP. By making Mr. Shakya, its candidate the BJP is hoping to make a major dent in the Non-Yadav OBC vote base on the seat as Shakya, social group constitutes the second largest electorate after Yadavs in Mainpuri.
The BJP also named its candidates for the bypolls in two Assembly constituencies of U.P., namely Rampur and Khatauli which become vacant after disqualification of Azam Khan and Vikram Saini respectively.
Akash Saxena who lost to Azam Khan earlier this year has been repeated from the Rampur Sadar seat. The election is necessitated after Mr. Khan was disqualified after he was convicted for three years in a hate speech case. Son of former BJP MLA Shiv Bahadur Saxena Mr. Saxena is the face of the campaign against Mr. Khan in Rampur as he is the complainant in several cases filed against the SP leader.
For the BJP winning the Mainpuri Lok Sabha will be a challenging task as the constituency is electing Samajwadi Party candidates since 1996. Likewise, Rampur Assembly seat also happens to be a stronghold of the SP’s Muslim face Azam Khan.
From Khatauli, the BJP has put faith in Rajkumari Saini, the spouse of the outgoing MLA Vikran Saini, who was disqualified after he was convicted in a case related to the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 by a special court in October this year.
Dimple Yadav of the Samajwadi Party has already filed her nomination from the Mainpuri seat. In Khatauli, Madan Bhaiya of Rashtriya Lok Dal will contest as the RLD-SP candidate. The SP has yet to announce the candidate from the Rampur Sadar seat.
The BJP is hopeful of breaching both these citadels of Samajwadi Party due to its recent success in Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha bypolls. The close outcome of 2019 Parliamentary election in Mainpuri and 2019 bypoll in Rampur Assembly seat is also giving the BJP strategists a belief of breaching these strongholds of the SP. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, late Mulayam Singh Yadav defeated BJP’s nominee Prem Singh Shakya by less one lakh votes. While in the elections since 2004, the difference between winning candidate from SP, and the runner-up was more than 1,75,000 votes.