LUCKNOW: Canvassing for the bypolls to seven assembly seats ended on Sunday in Uttar Pradesh where 88 candidates are in the fray for the November 3 contest, with the opposition taking on the state government over law and order and the BJP raising the "love jihad" issue.
Of the seven seats going to the polls on Tuesday, six were held by the BJP and one by the Samajwadi Party.
"All preparations to ensure a free, fair and peaceful polling keeping in mind COVID-19 have been made. Voters will have to adhere to the COVID-19 protocol and maintain distance among themselves while casting their votes, " Chief Electoral Officer Ajay Kumar Shukla told PTI.
The state government is facing criticism over the law and order situation, particularly after the Hathras and Balrampur rape and murder cases.
In the run-up to the bypolls, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday said his government will bring a law to deal with 'love jihad'.
The seven assembly seats where the bypolls will be held include Naugaon Sadat, which fell vacant after the death of state minister Chetan Chauhan.
The BJP has fielded his wife Sangeeta Chauhan for the bypolls.
In Ghatampur (Kanpur), the bypolls were necessitated due to the death of sitting MLA and state minister Kamal Rani Varun while in Tundla (Firozabad), MLA S P Singh Baghel was elected to the Lok Sabha.
The Bangarmau (Unnao) seat fell vacant following the conviction of Kuldeep Singh Sengar in a rape case.
The seats of Bulandshahr, Deoria and Malhani will go to bypolls due to the demise of sitting MLAs Virendra Singh Sirohi, Janmejay Singh and Parasnath Yadav (SP).
The counting of votes will take place on November 10.
The maximum 18 candidates are in the fray from Bulandshahr.
Six candidates are locked in a contest in Ghatampur, the lowest number among the constituencies.
There are 16 candidates in the fray from Malhani (Jaunpur); 14 each from Naugawan Sadat (Amroha) and Deoria; 10 each from Bangarmau (Unnao) and Tundla (Firozabad).
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his deputies Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh have been holding election meetings in the run-up to the bypolls.
Swatantra Dev Singh claimed that the BJP will register win on all seats.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday accused the BJP of misusing the government machinery and making voters feel afraid while apprehending defeat in the bypolls.
In a statement, Akhilesh Yadav said, "The BJP never had faith in 'loktantra' (democracy), 'loklaaj' and 'lokmaryada'. They never hesitate in doing something wrong to gain power."
He demanded that central forces be deployed at sensitive places to ensure free and impartial polls.
Appealing to the voters, Yadav said, "These bypolls should be taken seriously. The results of the bypolls will determine as to on which path will UP's politics move. The voters have to choose between development and destruction."
Meanwhile, UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said the BJP government has failed on all fronts and asserted that the public has decided to teach the ruling party a lesson.
"This will be visible in the bypolls. These bypolls will mark the commencement of the decline of the BJP and the Congress will emerge victorious," Lallu said while slamming the state government over the law and order situation.
On Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said his government will come out with a law to deal with "love jihad" and used the Hindu funeral chant "Ram Naam Satya Hai" to threaten those who don't respect their daughters and sisters.
Welcoming the Allahabad High Court ruling declaring that conversion for the sole purpose of marriage is not valid, the chief minister said posters will be put up of those involved in "love jihad", a derogatory coinage referring to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love.
"We will bring an effective law. It is my warning to those who play with the honour and dignity of sisters and daughters by hiding their real names and identities. If they do not mend their ways, their 'Ram Naam Satya' journey will start," Adityanath had said while addressing election rallies in Jaunpur and Deoria .
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati too on Sunday appealed to voters to vote for her party candidates and send a political message to rivals.