Lucknow: On Saturday, exactly three days before the Assembly bypolls which were held on Tuesday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister vowed to put in place stern law against “Love Jihad”.
Although speculations were rife about this proposed law for quite some time, the timing when the CM made it official is being viewed as a political stunt ahead of the crucial bypolls.
Bypolls for seven seats were held peacefully with an average 53.6% electorate using their franchise. The constituencies include the ones vacated by rape convict Kuldeep Sengar and ace cricketer-minister Chetan Chauhan.
Amroha’s Naugawa Sadat seat witnessed the highest polling percentage of 61.5. Ghatampur seat of Kanpur (SC) saw the lowest polling - 49.4%.
The counting will take place on November 10.
Tried and Tested Formula
Despite big claims of managing the covid19 pandemic, joblessness, and investment, BJP seems to have resorted to its tried and tested formula of Hindu-Muslim divide, say observers.
Interestingly, ground for this controversial law was being readied for the last two-three months. A few cases of alleged “Love Jihad”- Muslim boys’ relationship or marriage with Hindu girls- were reported amid lockdown. The right-wing groups have been protesting against such link-ups and have managed to break a few relationships as well, at the behest of girls’ parents.
CM’s media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar and Home Secretary Awaneesh Awasthi had allegedly spoken about the proposal of such law, as per some media reports.
Acid Test for Yogi
The bypolls are the acid test for the CM’s popularity and performance both ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls which are a little over a year ahead.
To make matters worse, the Samajwadi Party has consolidated its base by denting BSP and Congress both just days ahead of the bypolls. The party not only managed to break seven MLAs of Mayawati but inducted two Congress’s stalwart Salim Sherwani and Annu Tandon.
A total of 93 candidates are in the fray for the elections. The BJP won six of these seven seats in the landslide election of 2017, most of these wins being the first for the party at these seats in over a decade.
The seats earlier with the BJP are— Bulandshahr, Naugawan Sadat (Amroha), Tundla, Ghatampur (Kanpur), Bangarmau (Unnao), and Deoria.
The Malhani seat (Jaunpur) was with the Samajwadi Party.
While bypolls are usually won by the ruling dispensation, as per analysts, the BJP’s task is not easy this time.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath knows that and that’s why he met party workers at each of these seven seats and held big rallies too where he explained about the development works being done by his government.
The Opposition is targeting the government on the issue of law and order — especially crime against women especially the Dalits such as in Hathras case. Agriculture laws and joblessness are the two other issues on which they cornered the government.
If BJP loses any of the six seats, it will be seen as a sign of incumbency, analysts say.
This is the testing for the opposition as well. Congress and BSP didn’t hold any of these seats before but they have fielded candidates on all seats possibly to weigh their strength ahead of 2022 polls.
SP has fielded six candidates and has given one seat to Rashtriya Lokdal. The party is trying hard to retain its Jaunpur seat. However, the entry of a Bahubali Dhananjay Singh, an independent candidate, in the fray may surprise everyone.
If it manages to win two or more seats along with the RLD, it will give the party a major boost. If it scores zero, then Akhilesh Yadav may have to revise his strategy.
BJP candidate claims bogus voting, EC says NO
BJP candidate from Naugawan Sadat Sangeeta Chauhan, wife of late minister Chetan Chauhan, alleged on Tuesday that bogus voting was being done by the "burqa-clad" women.
However, the election commission’s report after completion of voting on Monday evening stated that no cases of bogus voting reported anywhere. No incident of EVM malfunction occurred in the state either, EC claimed.