Lucknow (UP): In a setback to the main opposition Samajwadi Party, the BJP on Sunday wrested both Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP’s Ghanshyam Lodhi defeated Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Mohd Asim Raja by a comfortable margin of 42,192 votes in the direct contest in Rampur.
“Lodhi has won by over 42,000 votes,” Rampur District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar told reporters after giving the winning certificate to the BJP contender.
While Lodhi secured 3,67,397 votes (51.96 per cent), SP’s Raja got 3,25,205 votes (46 per cent), the Election Commission (EC) said.
Lodhi defeated Raja, who is considered close to SP leader Mohd Azam Khan. Khan had won from the constituency in 2019.
“This is a victory of the people of Rampur,” Lodhi said, adding that he would now work as their “chowkidar”.
Meanwhile, Azam Khan alleged misuse of official machinery in the polls and challenged that he would leave politics if any international agency conducts the polls and his party candidate gets defeated. He also said that defeat of Raja is the defeat of democracy.
“Let elections be conducted honestly. I say the international court of justice should come and conduct elections here. If my candidate gets defeated then, I will leave politics,” he told reporters.
In Azamgarh, where a triangular fight was witnessed between the BJP, the SP and the BSP, the saffron party’s Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’ won by a margin of 8,679 votes.
While Nirahua got 3,12,768 votes (34.39 per cent), SP’s Yadav secured 3,04,089 (33.44 per cent) votes. BSP candidate Shah Alaim alias Guddu Jamali got 2,66,210 (29.27 per cent) votes, EC said.
“It is the victory of people. Residents of Azamgarh have done wonderful work. The way you all gave me support, affection and blessings… this victory is yours. I dedicate this victory to your trust and the hardwork of party workers who are like God to me,” Nirahua said on Twitter.
Both Rampur and Azamgarh seats were held by the Samajwadi Party in the 2019 polls.
The bypolls were necessitated due to the resignations of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and party leader Azam Khan from Azamgarh and Rampur seats, respectively after their victory in the recent Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
After leading initially, the SP candidates in both the seats trailed as the counting of votes progressed.
Though the outcome of the bypolls in the politically significant state will not make much of a difference in the numerical strength of the parties in the Lok Sabha, the fall of bastions of SP is considered important from the point of view of the 2024 general elections.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) already has 62 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. The bypoll victory has increased the party’s tally to 64, while the count of Akhilesh Yadav’s party has come down to three from five.
The BJP’s victory in the SP bastions also shows the saffron party’s growing popularity after a comfortable victory in the February-March state polls.
For the main opposition party, the result reflects its losing grip over Muslims and Yadavs, the citadel of their “MY” support base.
In Azamgarh, SP candidate Dharmendra Yadav had got into an argument with security personnel during counting of votes over alleged denial of entry in the strongroom. He alleged that an attempt was made to change EVMs and that is why he was not allowed entry inside. He, however, was later allowed in.
Superintendent of Police, Azamgarh, Anurag Arya said those entitled were allowed entry after “frisking”.
The two constituencies voted on June 23, with Azamgarh recording a turnout of 49.43 per cent and Rampur 41.39 per cent.
In 2019, the vote percentage in Azamgarh was 63.19, while Rampur had witnessed 57.56 per cent polling.
Over 35 lakh people were eligible to vote in the bypolls to decide the fate of 19 candidates.
While Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath actively campaigned in both Azamgarh and Rampur, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav did not campaign in the bypolls.
During the campaigning in Azamgarh, Adityanath had asked the people to miss the opportunity for making “Azamgarh as Aryamgarh”, dropping a hint of changing the name of the district falling in Purvanchal.
Hindu organisations have been raising this demand consistently and the matter has been brought to the notice of Adityanath time and again.
Azamgarh was known as Aryamgarh during the Mughal period when its name was changed to Azamgarh, they said.