Who will win Dalit votes — BSP or Azad — in UP bypolls?

Politics over Dalit votes intensifies ahead of 10-seat UP bye-elections
BSP chief Mayawati and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad
BSP chief Mayawati and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad

LUCKNOW : After drawing a blank in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in a departure from its long-standing stance, has decided to contest the upcoming assembly by-polls to 10 seats vacated during general elections in UP.

This has set the stage for a trial of strength among Dalit voters as the Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad-led Azad Samaj Party (ASP-Kanshiram) has also pulled up its socks to try its fate in bypolls which are likely to be held along with assembly elections to three states.

Emerging as a prominent Dalit leader by winning the Nagina Lok Sabha seat by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes in his electoral debut against Om Kumar of the BJP, Chandrashekhar has appointed in-charges on four assembly seats - Khair (Aligarh), Meerapur (Muzaffarnagar), Kundarki (Moradabad) and Ghaziabad Sadar (Ghaziabad). On the rest of the seats mainly from central and eastern UP, including Milkipur (Ayodhya), Sisamau (Kanpur), Phulpur (Prayagraj), Katehri (Ambedkar Nagar), Manjhwa (Bhadohi) and Karhal (Mainpuri), he will appoint in-charges soon.

On the other hand, addressing her party leaders at a national level meeting in Lucknow recently, BSP chief Mayawati also made her intentions of contesting the assembly bypolls in Uttar Pradesh clear.

The BSP chief said that she would field candidates on all 10 seats, of which, nine fell vacant after the election of sitting legislators to the Lok Sabha and Sisamau seat in Kanpur got vacant after the disqualification of sitting MLA Irfan Solanki who was convicted and sentenced by a local court in a criminal case.

Mayawati also made it clear that the party would go it alone in the bypolls.

With Azad leading the ASP campaign, the fight for Dalit votes between both Dalit-based parties — BSP and ASP — will intensify in UP.

Buoyed by the Nagina success, the ASP has also decided to go solo in the bypolls, said the party sources. “It will give an opportunity to us to expand our base in other parts of the state as well,” says a senior ASP leader.

Dalit politics

The assembly bypolls to 10 seats vacated during the general election in UP are due in July 10. Chandrashekhar Azad emerged as a prominent Dalit leader by winning the Nagina LS seat by a margin of over 1.5 lakh votes in his electoral debut against BJP.

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