After 10-month gap, BSP decides to contest a poll

After abstaining from electoral contests for more than 10 months since its defeat in the Assembly elections last year, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to contest the Bhatpar Rani by-election, which has been caused by the death of Sports Minister Kameshwar Upadhyay.

The BSP has chosen Vinda Kushwaha as its candidate who had contested the general election on a Congress ticket and had secured the third spot with 19,352 votes. Sabha Kunwar, the BSP candidate, came second with 41,093 votes, compared to winner Upadhyay's 56,017.

The ruling SP has announced the name of Upadhyay's son Ashutosh alias 'Bablu', while Congress and BJP are yet to announce their candidates for the by-election to be held on February 23.

BSP zonal coordinator and Rajya Sabha member Jugul Kishore said Vinda had polled more than 19,000 votes on her own during Assembly elections and with the BSP votes in her favour, she would definitely win the seat. Kishore said the party was working hard and hopes to win the by-election.

After the debacle in the Assembly elections, the BSP had decided not to contest Kannauj Lok Sabha by-poll which was caused after Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav resigned from the Lok Sabha to become a member of the state legislature. His wife Dimple had won the by-poll unopposed.

The party also did not put up candidates during the local body elections in June last year and Mayawati gave "goondaraj of SP government" as the excuse. Similarly, the party also did not put up any candidate in the by-election for Mant Assembly constituency, which was caused by the resignation of the Rashtriya Lok Dal MP Jayant Chaudhary.

The party also did not support candidates in the recently held by-elections of zila panchayat chairmen, which were caused after no-confidence motions were brought against the previous chairmen following the change of government.

A BSP leader said the party now wants to test the waters after almost one year of the SP government. "A victory in the by-election will be an appropriate start for the party workers gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections," he said.

Senior party leaders Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Swami Prasad Maurya and state president Ram Achal Rajbhar have been instructed to camp in the constituency. Siddiqui held a meeting of MPs, MLAs and party workers from Gorakhpur, Basti and Azamgarh divisions in Deoria on Tuesday.

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