The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has deployed several former Samajwadi Party leaders-turned-BJP men to target the state’s main opposition party in Mainpuri where the Lok Sabha bypoll will held on December 5. The SP hasn’t lost the seat since 1996.
The BJP’s counter-strategy comes as SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal, a lawmaker from Jaswant Nagar, has been campaigning for Samajwadi Party candidate Dimple Yadav, Akhilesh’s wife.
Jaswant Nagar is one of the five assembly segments of the Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency.
“There are no bastions now. On December 8, counting day, the BJP will create history here,” said UP BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary while campaigning for the party candidate Raghuraj Shakya in Jaswant Nagar.
Union minister SP Singh Baghel, a former SP lawmaker-turned-BJP leader, has been campaigning in Mainpuri, especially the Karhal assembly segment.
Baghel had contested the 2022 UP assembly polls against Akhilesh Yadav in Karhal.
Simlarly, former SP leader-turned-UP BJP minister Jaivir Singh has been campaigning in Jaswant Nagar, a key assembly segment from where the SP has won continuously.
“If anybody thinks there is any place which can be considered anyone’s bastion, then one is sadly mistaken,” UP BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary said while addressing a booth-level meeting of the party in Jaswant Nagar on Wednesday.
“Earlier, SP leaders would say that their party chief doesn’t campaign in the bypolls. Now, he is not only campaigning but going door-to-door, too, and even welcomed his uncle by making him a star campaigner, something which he never did so far. There was a time when the SP and the BSP would describe some constituencies as their bastions. Now, all that is a thing of the past,” Chaudhary said.
Despite the unity among the Samajwadi Party family and Shivpal campaigning for the SP, the BJP has engaged in tactical posturing.
“There is a lot of bogus voting in Jaswant Nagar and we will ensure that this doesn’t happen this time around,” said Jaivir Singh, an MLA from Mainpuri (Sadar) assembly who has been virtually camping here in Jaswant Nagar.
“Also, this is the first time when the entire Yadav first family from Saifai has been campaigning door-to-door,” he added.
Baghel targeted the SP in Karhal where Akhilesh Yadav defeated him by 67,504 votes, the highest victory margin ever for the seat, earlier this year.
But the BJP leader, who was a former security officer of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, said he had managed to strike a rapport with the people in the assembly polls and would seek to build on it. He had got 80, 962 votes (32.74 percent) votes in the assembly election.
“There are no bastions any longer. This is considered a bastion of SP, but so was Firozabad and Kannauj from where Dimple Yadav was defeated earlier, so was Budaun from where Dharmendra Yadav was defeated earlier,” Baghel said.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal have been jointly campaigning ever since Akhilesh touched Shivpal’s feet in a public show of bonhomie at Saifai on November 20 after years of bitter family feud.
In 2022, Shivpal had defeated BJP’s Vivek Shakya by over 90,000 votes, improving on his 2017 win in which he had bagged the Jaswant Nagar seat by a margin of over 52,000 votes.
Mulayam Singh Yadav had won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Mainpuri by 94,389 votes, his lowest victory margin.
In 2014, Mulayam had won the seat by 3.64 lakh votes and in 2009 by 1.6 lakh votes. In 2004, he had won the seat by 3.37 lakh votes but vacated it and remained the Uttar Pradesh chief minister then.