In a last-minute announcement, the Samajwadi Party on Monday named Asim Raja as its candidate for the upcoming Rampur Lok Sabha byelection, just as the deadline for the filing of nomination papers drew to a close. Raja, who is also SP’s city unit president, will be contesting against BJP’s Ghanshyam Lodhi, a former SP MLC, in what will be a prestige battle in Azam Khan’s backyard. Khan was the MP from Rampur before he stepped down after winning in the state assembly elections earlier this year.
In a constituency which is dominated by Yadavs, Jats and Muslims, the BJP has gone with an OBC face in Ghanshyam Lodhi. Lodhi is also known to be a close aide of Khan before he joined BJP ahead of the assembly elections in February. Earlier, Mayawati had already announced that her party won’t field any candidate in the bypoll to the seat. Even the Congress has decided against going with any candidate for the Rampur byelection. With BSP and Congress out of the picture, Rampur is set to witness a direct battle between BJP and SP on June 23.
The SP has also named Dharmendra Yadav from Azamgarh, days after BJP had named Bhojpuri actor Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua.’ Azamgarh Lok Sabha byelection will be a keenly-watched contest as it is considered to be former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s stronghold. The SP national president had stepped down as MP like Khan, after he had won in the assembly elections earlier this year.
Like Lodhi, BJP has gone with another Yadav, Nirahua, in a seat which is heavily dominated by the Muslim, Jat and Yadav population. It is estimated that there are around 4 lakh Yadav voters, followed by Muslims at 3 lakh, and Dalits at 2.75 lakh.