By-elections will be held on seven assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday — the first after a string of incidents that led to questions over Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s handling of law and order. The biggest of these involved the encounter killing of gangster Vikas Dubey and the alleged rape and murder of a woman from Hathras that attracted nationwide outrage.
In the assembly elections of 2017, the BJP won six of the seven seats.
Some of them fell vacant after the deaths of incumbent MLAs.
The most keenly watched among these is the election at Unnao’s Bangarmau seat, which fell vacant after the conviction of sitting BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar in the rape of a woman from his village.
The case triggered widespread outrage against Kuldeep Sengar and raised questions on whether the BJP was slow to act against the controversial and powerful ex-MLA.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been the BJP’s star campaigner for the by-polls.
On Sunday, at a rally in eastern Uttar Pradesh, he raised the issue of “love jihad” — citing an Allahabad High Court order on religious conversion for marriage — and invoked “Ram naam satya”, a Hindu funeral chant, to issue a thinly-veiled threat to “those who… play with our sisters’ respect”.
The Samajwadi Party, the Congress and even Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, which generally does not contest by-polls, have put up candidates for all seven seats.
Mayawati, however, has been totally absent from the campaign while Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav has been mostly visible on social media.
Polling will be held on Tuesday and the counting of votes will take place on November 10.