With the electoral alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party ending in divorce, the upcoming bypolls to 12 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh are likely to witness a four-cornered contest.
The Lok Sabha election and the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election were rather triangular in nature, where the Samajwadi Party had a tie-up with the Congress (in 2017 UP Assembly polls) and the BSP (2019 Lok Sabha election).
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, Congress, SP, BSP and the RLD contested individually in the state.
Bypolls will be held in 11 Assembly seats of UP, as sitting MLAs were elected as MPs, and in Hamirpur due to the disqualification of BJP MLA Ashok Kumar Singh Chandel following his conviction in a murder case.
Of the four ministers of the Yogi Adityanath government who contested the Lok Sabha elections, three won the polls; Mukut Bihari Verma lost from Ambedkar Nagar. The victors were Rita Bahuguna Joshi from Allahabad, Satyadev Pachauri from Kanpur and S.P. Singh Baghel from Agra.
Joshi was MLA from Lucknow Cantonment while Satyadev Pachauri represented Govindnagar (Kanpur). Baghel was the sitting MLA from Tundla (SC) Assembly seat.
Among other BJP legislators, R.K. Singh Patel won the Banda Lok Sabha seat. He is a legislator from Manikpur Assembly seat in the same parliamentary constituency.
Similarly, BJP MLA from Iglas, Rajvir Singh Valmiki Diler, won the Hathras Lok Sabha seat and party legislator from Zaidpur, Upendra Rawat, won from Barabanki.
BJP legislator from Gangoh, Pradeep Chaudhary, won the Kairana Lok Sabha seat, while another legislator from Balha Assembly seat, Akshaywar Lal Gaud, won from Bahraich.
The Samajwadi Party had fielded its Rampur MLA Mohammad Azam Khan from the Lok Sabha seat of the same name. Khan defeated actor Jaya Prada of the BJP.
BSP MLA Ritesh Pandey and Apna Dal MLA Sangam Lal Gupta, who contested on BJP tickets, won from Ambedkar Nagar and Pratapgarh seats, respectively.
Exuding confidence that the BJP will sweep the bypolls, UP BJP media coordinator Rakesh Tripathi told PTI, "Irrespective of the fact that elections are four-cornered or multi-cornered, the BJP corner will emerge as the strongest. We have learnt our lessons from previous bypoll defeats (Kairana, Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats, and Noorpur Assembly seat), and the party has already started it poll preparations.”
"The bypolls will also give an opportunity to the party to increase its tally in the UP Assembly, and win seats of Rampur and Jalalpur, which it had lost in the 2017 Assembly polls," he said.
The Congress asserted that the bypolls will throw up "unexpected results".
"The UP Assembly bypolls will definitely throw unexpected results, as the people of the state are fed up with the BJP government, and its failure on the law and order front. The party will contest the bypolls with all its strength, and will definitely increase its tally in the UP Assembly," UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said.
The Congress has also decided to depute a two-member team to oversee election preparations in all Assembly seats in eastern and western Uttar Pradesh where the bypolls are scheduled to take place.
Ajay Kumar Lallu, the leader of the Congress Legislative Party, has been appointed in-charge for making organisational changes in UP East for a defined period, the party said.
The move coincided with BSP president Mayawati on Monday declaring that her party in the future will contest all elections "small and big" on its own, signalling the end of the BSP-SP alliance forged for the Lok Sabha polls.
Mayawati's announcement came a day after she held a meeting with party workers to review the BSP's performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
On January 12, the SP and BSP had announced their tie-up in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and kept the Congress out of the alliance.
The parties, had however, said they would not field candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli, then represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, respectively.
In the Lok Sabha elections, BSP contested on 38 seats, SP on 37, while RLD fought from 3 seats.
Section 151 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 stipulates that a by-election has to be held within six months of a seat falling vacant in an Assembly or the Lok Sabha.