As the campaign for bypolls to 11 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh ended on Saturday, all eyes were trained on Rampur, the seat widely regarded as the bastion of senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and party MP Azam Khan.
Although the BJP had won nine of the 11 seats in the 2017 Assembly elections, the saffron party has gone all out to make a clean sweep of the bypolls. The SP and BSP had won one seat each in the 2017 polls.
BJP has its eyes set on Rampur, where Azam Khan's wife Tanzeen Fatima is in the fray on a SP ticket. A battery of senior BJP leaders, including UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned in Rampur.
In a bid to counter the BJP campaign, Azam Khan himself had camped in Rampur for the past several weeks. SP president Akhilesh Yadav also addressed election meetings in the constituency.
Similarly, the BJP has also set its eyes on the Jalalpur Assembly seat in Ambedkar Nagar district. The seat was won by the BSP in the 2017 Assembly polls.
Even though the bypolls hold little numerical value for the saffron party, it assumed an added significance as they were being held at a time when the Adityanath government has little more than half of its term left in office.
Though the Opposition was divided and the SP and BSP alliance was no longer present, the BJP was not taking any chances and had deployed its ministers to ensure victory in the by-polls.
While the BJP’s campaign mainly revolved around Article 370 and nationalism, the Opposition made the economic slowdown and the alleged deteriorating law and order situation in the state its main poll plank.
The polling on all these Assembly seats would be held on Monday.