LUCKNOW: The bypolls to 11 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh will be a "one-sided contest" and in BJP's favour, claim its leaders, even as the opposition, which was battered in the Lok Sabha polls, eyes to better its prospects before the 2022 state elections.
There are 110 candidates in the fray and the state chiefs of the BJP and the Congress are keen to start their parties' innings on a winning note ahead of the polls to the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly.
The bypolls will witness a four-cornered contest, with the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress fielding candidates for all the seats. It will be held on October 21 along with assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.
"The Congress will become the voice of the deprived, harassed, farmers, youths and women in Uttar Pradesh. We have several challenges before us but with the blessings of seniors and the support of the youth, no one will be able to stop the party from coming to power in 2022," newly-appointed Congress state president Ajay Kumar Lallu had said during his visit to Lucknow on Friday.
He also exhorted workers to overcome all hurdles through determination and hard work, and work unitedly for taking the party ahead.
However, the BJP is eyeing a clean sweep in the bypolls in order to increase its tally in the state legislative assembly.
State BJP chief Swatantradev Singh claimed that the ongoing assembly bypolls in the state will eventually prove to be a "one-sided contest in favour of the BJP."
"BJP workers in the entire state are a committed cadre and are working for the party's programmes rather than seeking personal gains. The government of Yogi Adityanath is committed for the protection of the poorest and marginalised section of the society. The BJP will make a clean sweep in the upcoming by-elections," he had told reporters.
Besides development works of the BJP government, the party's is also highlighting its initiatives towards a clean India and making the state plastic free, he said.
Sources said the Congress is eyeing to send a strong signal to voters ahead of the 2022 assembly elections, after its battering in the Lok Sabha polls in which it won the sole seat of Rae Bareli, represented by party chief Sonia Gandhi.
The BSP and the SP, which were in an alliance in the general elections, ended their tie-up after the polls. The BSP-SP combine won 15 seats. In the 2017 assembly polls, the SP had a tie-up with the Congress.
There are 302 BJP MLAs in the legislative assembly, while there are 47 SP MLAs and 18 MLAs of the BSP in the House. BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has eight MLAs, while there are seven Congress MLAs.
Congress's state media management committee member, Lalan Kumar, exuded confidence that the party will perform well in the bypolls under the leadership Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the party general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
"The bypolls will be a curtain raiser or a trailer before the grand show of 2022 in which the Congress will form government in the state.
"Ajay Kumar is a leader of the masses, and catapulting him to the post of UPCC chief has motivated workers in the state. From the ongoing bypolls, we will embark on the winning path in the state politics," he said.
Only the Congress can challenge the BJP in the state, Kumar said.
Reacting to Congress' claims, Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Hero Bajpai said the BJP will register wins on all the 11 seats under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
"We have already started the state bypolls on a winning note by bagging the Hamirpur assembly seat, where a bypoll was held," Bajpai said.
In the recently concluded Hamirpur by-elections, BJP candidate Yuwraj Singh won the bypoll by a margin of over 17,846 votes, defeating his nearest rival Samajwadi Party candidate Manoj Prajapati. Singh secured 74,374 votes, while Prajapati got 56,528 votes.
The assembly constituencies going to polls are Gangoh, Rampur, Iglas (SC), Lucknow Cantonment, Govindnagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur (SC), Jalalpur, Balha (SC) and Ghosi.
The bypolls were necessitated after some MLAs won the Lok Sabha elections and resigned as members of the state assembly.
The assembly constituency of Ghosi became vacant following the resignation of sitting MLA Phagu Chauhan after he was appointed as the Governor of Bihar.
Of the 11 seats, which are going to bypolls, eight were held by the BJP. Pratapgarh was held by Apna Dal (Sonelal) - a BJP ally. The seats of Rampur and Jalalpur (Ambedkarnagar) were held by the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party respectively.
The maximum number of candidates 13 each are from Lucknow Cantonment and Jalalpur assembly constituencies, followed by 12 in Ghosi, and 11 each in Gangoh, Pratapgarh and Balha (SC).
Nine candidates each are in the fray from Govindnagar and Manikpur. Besides, seven candidates each will contest the bypolls from Rampur, Iglas (SC) and Zaidpur (SC).