Uttar Pradesh: How Azam Khan's Absence In Rampur Seat Will Hit Samajwadi Party Hard In By-Polls
The equations in Rampur assembly by-polls are similar to Rampur Lok Sabha by-poll.
The BJP can win only if it dents into the SP's vote share.
Uttar Pradesh's Rampur Sadar assembly constituency is going to by-polls on 5 December as sitting MLA Azam Khan was disqualified in a hate speech case.
The seat is considered to be a Samajwadi Party (SP) bastion and Azam Khan has been elected from here as an MLA 10 times.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pushing hard to win this election after the thrust it received in Rampur Lok Sabha (LS) by-poll held in June this year.
The recent events
Considered Azam Khan's close aide, Fasahat Ali Khan 'Shanu' joined BJP on Monday (21 November). He was with Congress and RLD earlier but has been with Azam Khan for 17 years.
However, recent events like cases against him and him not getting rewarded by SP for his loyalty persuaded Shanu to jump boats. He had earlier criticised Akhilesh Yadav and accused him of not respecting Muslim sentiments.
Another Muslim leader Nawab Kazim Ali has also announced support for the BJP candidate. Being a Congress leader, he has been Azam Khan's opponent for a long time and his son had fought elections against Azam's son.
Ali's family had also supported BJP during the Rampur LS by-poll and it is believed that this contributed to the party's victory. Another local SP leader Tahir Ali also announced his support for the BJP candidate.
Those Muslim leaders who were against Azam Khan at the local level have now openly announced their support for the BJP candidate. The list includes Babar Khan and Mohammed Usman.
Yusuf Ali, who has been switching between Congress and SP, has also now joined BJP. Land mafia Mashqoor Ahmed Munna didn't join BJP but has rebelled against the SP.
SP has chosen Asim Raza as its candidate. He is considered close to Azam Khan and his candidature was announced by Khan himself.
Raza had earlier fought the Rampur LS by-poll as well but lost to BJP's Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi by over 42,000 votes.
However, one thing to his credit is that he was leading in the Rampur assembly segment by over 7,000 votes and maybe this is why he has been given a chance again.
BJP's candidate is Akash Saxena who also lost his last election. He fought against Azam Khan in the assembly elections held earlier this year in Rampur and lost by over 55,000 votes.
Saxena is the one who fought the hate speech case against Azam Khan which got him disqualified. He was also behind getting Azam's son Abdullah disqualified as an MLA from Suar over fault in election affidavit.
Of the 104 cases against Azam Khan's family, Saxena is a petitioner in 43. He is a businessman by profession and son of the former minister of UP Shiv Bahadur Saxena. Shiv Bahadur had contested against Azam Khan in 2017 assembly elections.
Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bharatiya Samajwadi Party's (SBSP) candidate is Jayvir Singh, while Congress and BSP have stayed away from this election.
One thing to be noted here is that this is the first time in 45 years that someone from Azam Khan's family is not contesting for this seat.
Azam Khan won in this seat 10 times and lost just two times (in 1977 and 1996). He has also managed huge victory margins since 2002.
However, when his wife contested the by-poll in this seat in 2019 after Azam Khan was elected to Lok Sabha from Rampur, she could manage a victory margin of just over 7,000 votes.
Thus, Azam Khan's absence is a ray of hope for the BJP in this seat. Also, the BJP has considerably increased its vote share since 2014 in this assembly segment.
Another plus point for the BJP is the support from local Muslim leaders that it has received in recent weeks. Its Pasmanda Muslim outreach also seems to be working.
In the Rampur LS by-poll, BJP managed to win because it could attract 6-7 per cent of the vote directly from the SP. The equations are similar for the assembly seat as well. The BJP can win only if it dents into the SP's vote share.
The contest has already turned bipolar here since 2019 as the voters left Congress and BSP. With most of the Dalit vote on the BJP's side, the contest will also test the effectiveness of Muslim vote banking.
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