UP bypolls: Fate of 88 candidates to be decided on Tuesday

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Lucknow, Nov 2 (PTI) Eighty-eight candidates will face the electoral test in the bypolls to seven Uttar Pradesh assembly constituencies on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the seven seats going to the bypolls, six were held by the BJP and one by the Samajwadi Party.

'All preparations to ensure a free, fair and peaceful polling keeping in mind COVID-19 have been made. Voters will have to adhere to the COVID-19 protocol and maintain distance among themselves while casting their votes, ' Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla said.

The Yogi Adityanath government has been facing criticism over the law and order situation in the state, particularly after the Hathras and Balrampur rape and murder cases.

Last week, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad had launched the Azad Samaj Party campaign for the bypoll in Bulandshahr.

The bypolls will also be the first electoral test for the Azad Samaj Party, which evolved from the political movement of the Bhim Army led by Chandrashekhar Azad, as it will be looking to consolidate its hold among the Dalits.

The Azad Samaj Party has fielded Md Yameen as its candidate from Bulandshahr.

The seven assembly seats where the bypolls will be held include Naugaon Sadat, which fell vacant after the death of cabinet minister Chetan Chauhan. The BJP has fielded his wife Sangeeta Chauhan for the bypolls.

In Ghatampur (Kanpur), the bypolls were necessitated due to the death of sitting MLA and cabinet minister Kamal Rani Varun while in Tundla (Firozabad), MLA S P Singh Baghel was elected to Lok Sabha.

Chetan Chauhan and Kamal Rani Varun had succumbed to COVID-19. The Bangarmau (Unnao) seat fell vacant following the conviction of Kuldeep Singh Sengar in a rape case.

The seats of Bulandshahr, Deoria and Malhani will go to bypolls due to the demise of sitting MLAs Virendra Singh Sirohi, Janmejay Singh and Parasnath Yadav (SP).

The counting of votes will take place on November 10. Eighteen candidates are in the fray from Bulandshahr. Six candidates are locked in a contest in Ghatampur, the lowest number among the constituencies.

Sixteen candidates are in the fray from Malhani (Jaunpur), 14 each from Naugawan Sadat (Amroha) and Deoria, 10 each from Bangarmau (Unnao) and Tundla (Firozabad).

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his deputies Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh held several election meetings in the past few days.

While campaigning in Jaunpur and Deoria on Saturday, Adityanath had said that his government would come out with a law to deal with 'love jihad' and used the Hindu funeral chant 'Ram Naam Satya Hai' to threaten those who don't respect their daughters and sisters.

Welcoming the Allahabad High Court ruling declaring that conversion for the sole purpose of marriage is not valid, the chief minister had said that posters would be put up of those involved in 'love jihad', a derogatory coinage referring to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love.

'We will bring an effective law. It is my warning to those who play with the honour and dignity of sisters and daughters by hiding their real names and identities. If they do not mend their ways, their 'Ram Naam Satya' journey will start,' Adityanath had said while addressing election rallies.

On Sunday, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had accused the BJP of misusing the government machinery and making voters feel afraid while apprehending defeat in the bypolls.

Akhilesh Yadav had said, 'The BJP never had faith in 'loktantra' (democracy), 'loklaaj' and 'lokmaryada'. They never hesitate in doing something wrong to gain power.' He demanded that central forces be deployed at sensitive places to ensure free and impartial polls.

Appealing to the voters, he had said, 'These bypolls should be taken seriously. The results of the bypolls will determine as to on which path will UP's politics move. The voters have to choose between development and destruction.' UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu alleged that the BJP government has 'failed' on all fronts and asserted that the public has decided to teach the ruling party a lesson.

'This will be visible in the bypolls. These bypolls will mark the commencement of the decline of the BJP and the Congress will emerge victorious,' Lallu had said while slamming the state government over the law and order situation.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati too on Sunday had appealed to people to vote for her party candidates and send a political message to rivals. PTI NAV SNE