LUCKNOW: As the poll battle between SP and BJP escalates to a new high ahead of the forthcoming byelections in Rampur (assembly), Mainpuri (Lok Sabha) and Khatauli (assembly), it is the Rampur assembly seat that stands out.
Election Commission data shows that in comparison to 2022 assembly elections, BJP vote share jumped by around 12 per cent while SP’s dropped by just over 7 per cent in Rampur assembly segment during the Rampur Lok Sabha byelections held in June earlier this year.
Data show that SP’s Azam Khan cornered 59.7 per cent vote share in comparison to 34.62 per cent garnered by BJP’s Akash Saxena in Rampur during the assembly elections held in February-March. BSP and Congress, too, had fielded candidates, but they lost their deposits even as the contest remained largely between BJP and SP.
Only four months later, in June, when by-elections for Rampur Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Azam, were held, the voting pattern in the same Rampur assembly segment of the constituency registered an interesting swing in voting pattern – BJP’s vote share shot to 46.34 per cent while SP’s came down to 52.63 per cent. Though in absolute terms, SP candidate Asim Raja received 63,953 votes which was almost over 7600 more than BJP’s Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi who got 56317 votes. This time BSP and Congress were not in the fray.
Lodhi won the by-election because of a much higher vote share in Bilaspur and Milak assembly segments. While in Bilaspur, he received around 60 per cent of the total votes polled, his vote share in Milak was 57.4 per cent. This was sufficiently high to cover up the loss in Suar, Rampur and Chamraua assembly segments where Lodhi was behind Raja.
The similar pattern was observed in the 2019 Rampur assembly bypoll which was necessitated after Azam quit the seat following his election to Lok Sabha. Then too, BJP candidate Bharat Bhushan’s vote share had shot to 44.69% in comparison to 37% received by party candidate Jaya Prada in Rampur assembly segment of Rampur in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. BJP’s vote share in the 2017 assembly elections was even less when party candidate Shiv Bahadur Saxena received 25.84% votes. SP’s vote share, on the other hand, dropped from 56.6% cornered by Azam in 2019 to 49.52% garnered by his wife Tazeen Fatima in the bypolls months later.
The rise in vote share of BJP in Rampur assembly seat has been registered despite heavy domination of Muslim voters in the area. BJP, experts said, senses an opportunity to raise its tally – enough to breach the stronghold of Azam who got disqualified from UP assembly following his conviction in a hate speech case in October.
Not surprisingly, the BJP seeks to consolidate the Muslim vote bank by toning down its Hindutva pitch in Rampur. The Saffron outfit, at the same time, has roped in its key Muslim leaders, including former Union minority affairs minister and ex-Rampur MP Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, UP minority affairs minister Danish Azad Ansari and MLC Mohsin Raza. The UP BJP minority morcha, too, held a Muslim convention to consolidate the Pasmanda community earlier this month.
Notably, BJP has never won the Rampur assembly seat. Ever since the saffron party was formed in 198o, Azam Khan has won the seat a record 10 times, including six times as the SP candidate. His wife Tazeen Fatma won the 2019 bypoll here when Azam resigned from the Assembly following his election to LS. Besides, BJP has emerged the runner-up on this seat only on three occasions – in the 2022, 2017 and 1991 elections – when it won the absolute majority in the state.

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