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Polling begins peacefully in western Uttar Pradesh

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Rampur recorded 6% voting, Gangoh 11% and Iglas 9% till 9 a.m

Polling has begun peacefully for bypoll in three Assembly constituencies of Rampur, Gangoh and Iglas in western Uttar Pradesh. In Rampur, voting was halted at three polling stations because electronic voting machines had reportedly developed snags. According to the State Election Commission, Rampur has recorded 6% voting, Gangoh 11% and Iglas 9% till 9 a.m.

All three constituencies are interestingly poised as BJP is relying on faces that are new to electoral politics and is once again banking on its nationalist agenda, while the Opposition has tried to raise local issues of farm distress, increase in electricity prices and heavy penalties being imposed under the amended Motor Vehicles Act. It is a test for the SP and the BSP as, after the debacle they faced in the Lok Sabha polls, they are contesting the bypolls separately.

Unlike other constituencies, in Rampur, the BJP is the challenger as it tries to take on Tazeen Fatima, Rajya Sabha member, and wife of Samajwadi Party heavyweight Azam Khan in Mr Khan’s pocket borough. The bypoll was necessitated when Mr Khan got elected to the Lok Sabha earlier this year after defeating arch-rival Jaya Prada in a volatile contest.

The campaign had remained theatrical, with Mr Khan crying in public over his alleged persecution by the ruling party by filing 84 cases against him.

The BJP has surprisingly fielded Bharat Bhushan Gupta, an organisational man who has little experience of electoral politics, in front of the seasoned campaigner, who has wrested Rampur nine times in the part. He is relying on the shrill appeal of CM Yogi Adityanath, who described Mr Khan as being part of land mafia and asked the electorate not to give the famous Rampur knife in the wrong hand while talking about the ‘one district, one product’ scheme of the State government during a rally.

He highlighted the dilution of Article 370 and criminalisation of instant Triple Talaq in a constituency that has around 60 % Muslim voters. Former MP Jaya Prada camped in Rampur and matched Mr Khan in rhetoric. Mr Gupta also organised a magic show to conjure up votes in his favour.

In Gangoh, another constituency with a significant Muslim population and a sizeable Dalit electorate, the contest seems to be between the BJP and the Congress. Here again, the BJP has fielded a political novice in Kirat Singh, the general secretary of the local BJP unit, who is fighting his first election while the Congress has fielded Nauman Masood, chairman of Gangoh municipal corporation and brother of firebrand Congress leader Imran Masood. Mr Masood lost to the BJP’s Pradeep Kumar in 2017. Mr Kumar’s election to the Lok Sabha necessitated the bypoll.

Mr Masood has a tough task as the BSP has fielded Mohd Irshad, who is expected to cut into Muslim and Jatav votes.

In Iglas reserved seat, the contest is between BJP Raj Kumar Sahyogi, a veteran RSS man and BSP’s Abhay Kumar Bunty, who is getting the support of a section of Jats, who felt cheated when the SP-supported Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate was disqualified at the last minute. The BJP did not take any chances, with the CM holding two rallies and Jat leaders of the party camped in the constituency.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 9:06:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/polling-begins-peacefully-in-western-uttar-pradesh/article29755737.ece

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