Lucknow: While Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath continues his intense campaign in all seven poll-bound assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, opposition leaders like Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati are missing in action.
Adityanath is personally spearheading the campaign to ensure victory to his party candidates in the byelections for the seven seats, scheduled for 3 November. These bypolls are believed to be especially crucial for the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister after the intense backlash his government received in the wake of the alleged gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old Dalit girl from the Hathras district in September.
However, Yadav, Gandhi and Mayawati have not held any rally or made any electoral visits to these constituencies, and according to party sources, nor do they have any plans to do so.
No public meeting or any other election-related programme has been scheduled by these opposition parties for the bypolls, sources revealed.
The BJP has also taken a potshot at the three parties, claiming that they have already “laid their arms to rest”.
According to BJP spokesperson Dilip Srivastava, the top leaders of the opposition parties have already given up on the elections because they know the results will not be in their favour.
“Yogi ji believes in reaching out to the public. He is always ready to appear for the toughest of the tests and this is why he remains active. On the other hand, Akhilesh, Priyanka and Mayawati always prefer to avoid facing the public, so there is no public meeting scheduled for them,” Srivastava told ThePrint.
Akhilesh gathers reports virtually
Samajwadi Party sources reveal that its chief Akhilesh Yadav has been frequently interacting with party workers from the seven constituencies, virtually.
However, they noted that no schedule regarding Yadav’s public meetings or election rallies has been decided yet. The primary responsibility of the elections has been entrusted to the local units of the party.
Anurag Bhadoria, party spokesperson, told ThePrint, “I do not have any schedule related to public meetings of Akhilesh Yadav but I will tell you soon after gathering more information.”
However, the Samajwadi Party has sent senior leaders to coordinate efforts in every seat, sources noted.
Priyanka Gandhi and Mayawati may not campaign
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the Congress-in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, has also distanced herself from the bypoll campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
While Priyanka had vociferously condemned former BJP MLA and Unnao rape accused Kuldeep Sengar last year, now, when Sengar’s former seat is going to polls, she is nowhere to be seen in election campaigns. Congress is fielding Aarti Bajpayee, a Brahmin candidate, in this seat.
According to Congress party officials, no one really knows if Priyanka will campaign for these bypolls.
Siddharth Priya, the administration-in-charge of UP Congress, said that the party high command usually does not get involved in byelection campaigning, but the state unit remains actively engaged and is campaigning vigorously.
Public meetings of all Congress senior leaders from Uttar Pradesh has been proposed, added Priya.
CM Adityanath has already campaigned in Unnao and will perhaps hold a second rally there, BJP sources revealed.
Meanwhile, even though the BSP is contesting all seven seats in the bypolls, party chief Mayawati has stayed away from campaigning.
As a result, the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Satish Mishra is shouldering the responsibility for bypoll campaigns in the state.
According to party sources, Mayawati is currently busy campaigning for Bihar elections where her party is contesting in alliance with Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party.
Before this, the BJP had held six of the seven poll-bound seats — Bulandshahr, Naugawan Sadat, Tundla, Ghatampur, Bangarmau and Deoria. In the Malhani seat from the Jaunpur district, however, the Samajwadi Party was in power before the death of sitting MLA Parasnath Yadav.