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Voting Underway for Rampur, Azamgarh Lok Sabha Bypoll, First Litmus Test for Yogi 2.0 as SP Looks to Retain Both Seats

Voting is underway in Uttar Pradesh for Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha bypolls which is being seen as the first major litmus for Yogi 2.0 government, while Samajwadi Party will be looking to retain both the seats.

The Azamgarh and Rampur seats were won by Samajwadi Party in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the seats fell vacant after Azam Khan and Akhilesh Yadav tendered their resignation as they decided to continue as MLAs.

SP leader and MLA Azam Khan on Thursday accused Rampur Police and administration of violence on the eve of polling. “I’ve been up all night. Our Lok Sabha candidates went to Ganj police station, Kotwali police station, Civil Lines PS [in Rampur]. The most indecent behaviour was by the inspector of Ganj PS. He resorted to violence. The blame is on admin if polling percentage drops,” said Azam Khan while speaking to news agency ANI.

Azam Khan went on to say that “jeeps and sirens were everywhere in the city”, adding that the cops took people to the police station, beat them up and also said that he got to know of “some money transfers as well”.

“It’s shameful. I’m a criminal, I accept. So my city has also been presumed to be the same. They can do whatever they want, we have to endure. If I want to stay, I have to endure,” added Azam Khan.

Earlier on Tuesday,  UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath lashed out at the Samajwadi Party, saying the BJP’s double-engine government has worked to liberate the poor from the land mafia, unlike the previous dispensation. In a veiled attack at SP MLA Azam Khan in his bastion Rampur, the CM said, “Inki rassi jal gayi par ainthan nahi gayi [They lost all their powers but still their attitude didn’t come down]. BJP won’t let Rampur become a den of terrorism again.”

The CM made the remarks while addressing public meetings in Bilaspur and Milak areas ahead of the bypolls in support of BJP candidate Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi. “Earlier, land mafias used to encroach on land of the poor and often suppressed them. After coming to power, our government gave the land back to the poor and took action against such mafias and also took action against them,” he said.

The BJP has fielded Ghanshyam Lodhi for Rampur Lok Sabha bypolls, Lodhi, a former Samajwadi Party MLC who had joined the BJP ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, is now contesting against Samajwadi Party’s Asim Raza who was handpicked by Azam Khan for this contest. The Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have not fielded any candidate for Rampur bypoll.

However, in Azamgarh, it is BSP candidate Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali who has made things difficult for SP candidate Dharmendra Yadav. The BJP on the other hand has once again fielded Bhojpuri singer Dinesh Lal Yadav alias Nirahua from this seat, who had bagged around 3.6 lakh votes in 2019 but lost to Akhilesh Yadav.

Also, the contest on Azamgarh seat has now become interesting with cleric Aamir Rashadi Madni’s political outfit Rashtriya Ulama Council extending support to BSP candidate Shah Alam, aka Guddu Jamali. After getting the RUC’s backing, Jamali has claimed that now his victory is certain.

The main reason behind this is said to be the clout that the Rashtriya Ulama Council enjoys in the Sadar, Mubarakpur, and Gopalpur assembly seats that are part of the Azamgarh parliamentary constituency. In the 2017 UP assembly elections, the BSP was successful in winning four seats with the support of the Rashtriya Ulama Council.

The counting on both Azamgarh and Rampur seats will take place on June 26.

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