UP Lok Sabha bypolls: Akhilesh’s apathy led to SP defeat as its tally in LS touches a new low
The result of this Lok Sabha by-election in Uttar Pradesh has raised a big question as to why Akhilesh did not campaign. Why he was so confident that SP will win both the seats comfortably
A few days before polling when questions were being raised about the absence of senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders during campaigning for Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha bypolls, Akhilesh Yadav, the national president of SP reportedly told one of his acquaintances: “Even if I do not go to Rampur and Azamgarh, the Samajwadi Party is winning both the seats.”
And he did not go for campaigning even for a single day in the by-elections being held in these two seats.
On the other hand, BSP did not field any candidate in Rampur, while its candidate in Azamgarh assured the BSP supremo that he was winning the election. So Mayawati also did not consider it necessary to go out in the election campaign.
And the result was that the Samajwadi Party lost both Rampur and Azamgarh to BJP and its tally in Lok Sabha was reduced to a record low of three. In 2019, SP had five MPs but after Akhilesh Yadav and Azam resigned from Azamgarh and Rampur respectively, the strength of the party was reduced to three.
Dinesh Lal Yadav “Nirahua” won the seat from Azamgarh and Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi from Rampur defeating the Samajwadi Party’s candidates Dharmendra Yadav and Asim Raja by margins of 8,679 and 42,192 votes respectively.
The Azamgarh seat saw a triangular contest among the BJP's Dinesh Lal Yadav 'Nirahua', a Bhojpuri actor-singer, the SP's Dharmendra Yadav, and the BSP's Shah Alam, also known as Guddu Jamali. In Azamgarh, the candidate from Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Shah Alam, polled over 2 lakh votes, coming very close to both the BJP and SP candidates. This strong performance by the BSP candidate appears to have majorly impacted the Samajwadi Party's candidate Dharmendra Yadav.
The result of this by-election has raised a big question as to why Akhilesh did not campaign. Why he was so confident that SP will win both the seats comfortably. One reason could be that both the constituencies have a sizable number of Muslims and in recently held Vidhan Sabha election the Muslims had voted en-mass for the SP. The second reason could be that Akhilesh wanted to test the popularity of Azam Khan and therefore he was asked to lead the campaign.
"No, it does not matter. He was checking on my campaign all the time," Samajwadi Party candidate in Azamgarh Dharmendra Yadav said when asked about the former Chief Minister's absence from the campaign.
In Akhilesh’s absence, Azam Khan, Ram Gopal Yadav, and SP’s two allies - Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party president Om Prakash Rajbhar and RLD national chief Jayant Chaudhry took part in the election campaign.
The result is a clear indication that it was not enough. The low turnout showed that SP failed to bring its voters to the polling booths. The two constituencies voted on June 23, with Azamgarh recording a turnout of 49.43 per cent and Rampur 41.39 per cent.
Mulayam Singh Yadav won the Lok Sabha election from Azamgarh in 2014 and in 2019 Akhilesh won comfortably. In this by-election Akhilesh’s cousin, Dharmendra Yadav was fielded.
Azam Khan had won from Rampur in the Lok Sabha election in 2019 when the SP had an alliance with the BSP and the RLD. In 2014, BJP’s Nepal Singh—who was also Lodhi—had won the Rampur seat but with a thin margin of 23,435 votes.
BJP’s victorious candidate from Rampur is an OBC, and is a former SP MLC. He had started his political career with the BJP but he switched sides later. He had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Rampur as a BSP candidate in 2009 but finished third. He was elected a member of the UP Legislative Council from the Rampur-Bareilly local bodies constituency in 2016 as an SP candidate. His term ended in March this year.