An average 27.99 per cent votes were cast till 1 pm in the by-election to Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats on Thursday. Over 35 lakh people are eligible to vote in the bypolls and will be deciding the fate of 19 candidates. An average 27.99 per cent votes were polled till 1 pm in both the seats. Of these, 26.39 per cent votes were cast in Rampur, and 29.48 per cent in Azamgarh, and polling is going on in a peaceful manner, the election office here said. Both these seats are considered the bastions of the opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) in the state. The bypoll to the Azamgarh seat was necessitated by the resignation of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly as an MLA in the elections earlier this year. The Rampur seat was vacated by senior SP leader Azam Khan, who too was elected to the state assembly. Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party, in a series of tweets, complained about the alleged wrongdoings in different areas of both the Lok Sabha seats and drew the attention of the Election Commission in this regard.
“The police are harassing SP workers at the behest of the ruling party in Tanda and Daryal areas of Swar assembly seat in Rampur. The Election Commission should take note. Action should be taken against the guilty policemen. Ensure fair voting,” the party said and attached a letter written to the poll panel in this regard. In another tweet, the opposition party alleged that voters were prevented from casting votes at a booth in Tanda and polling was stopped.
It also drew the attention of the Election Commission alleging that its booth agents have been driven out in Azamgarh. “All agents have been made to leave from all the polling booths in Gopalpur, Sagdi, Mubarakpur, Azamgarh and Mehnagar assembly areas as part of a conspiracy at the behest of the BJP. The Election Commission should take note. Ensure fair elections,” the SP said in another tweet. There is also report of a police inspector misbehaving with an aged voter in Bilaspur in Rampur leading to ruckus. State minister Baldev Singh Aulakh, however, reached the spot and pacified the people, the report said.
The polling which started at 7 am will continue till 6 pm, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer said here. According to a statement issued by the Election Commission, two general and as many expense observers have been deputed by it to keep an eye on the polls. Besides, 291 sector magistrates, 40 zonal magistrates and 433 micro-observers have been deputed, it said. For ensuring security and peaceful conduct of the polls, an adequate number of central and state forces have been deployed. The responsibility for the security of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and strongrooms has been given to central forces. According to officials, 13 candidates are in the fray from Azamgarh, where 18.38 lakh people are eligible to vote. Six candidates are contesting from Rampur, which has 17.06 lakh voters.
From Rampur, the BJP has fielded Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi, who recently joined the party, while the SP has fielded Asim Raja, handpicked by Azam Khan. The Mayawati-led BSP is not contesting from Rampur. The Azamgarh seat is seeing a triangular contest among BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirhua’, a famous Bhojpuri actor-singer; SP’s Dharmendra Yadav and BSP’s Shah Alam, also known as Guddu Jamali. In Azamgarh, of the 18.38 lakh voters, 9,70,249 are men, 8,67,942 women and 36 third gender. Officials said 2,176 booths are set up at 1,149 polling stations of the constituency, where an estimated 15 per cent of the residents are Muslims. All four assembly constituencies — Azamgarh, Mubarakpur, Sagdi, Gopalpur and Mehnagar — falling in this Lok Sabha seat were won by the SP in the recent assembly elections. During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there was an alliance between the SP and the BSP, and Akhilesh Yadav had won easily, getting 6.21 lakh votes against BJP’s Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua’, who had got 3.61 lakh votes.
While central BJP leaders remained absent from campaigning this time, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath sought votes for the BJP candidates on the two seats. Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple did not campaign in the bypolls. In the 2019 Lok Sabaha elections, Azam Khan had received 5,59,177 votes, whereas BJP candidate Jaya Prada got 4,49,180 votes and Congress candidate Sanjay Kapoor lost his deposit.