Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party and a confident BJP will be the main contenders in most of the 11 assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat where by-elections will be held Saturday.The Bharatiya Janata Party, which won a whopping 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in May, has the most at stake as it held all 11 assembly seats along with its ally Apna Dal.For the Samajwadi Party, the polls are an opportunity to make a comeback, after its disastrous showing in the Lok Sabha battle where its numbers dipped from 22 to five.Other than retaining the Mainpuri parliamentary constituency represented earlier by party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party is trying to give the BJP a close contest in Saharanpur City, Bijnore, Thakurdwara, Noida, Lucknow (East), Nighasan, Hamirpur, Charkhari, Sirathu, Balha and Rohaniya assembly segments.
If Mainpuri is a prestige issue for the Samajwadi Party, which has fielded Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, a grandnephew of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the BJP is determined to win the assembly seat of Lucknow (East). Mulayam Singh Yadav was elected to the Lok Sabha both from Mainpuri and Azamgarh in May, but later gave up the Mainpuri seat. The Lucknow seat earlier elected Kalraj Mishra, now an MP from Deoria and a central minister. The BJP candidate now is Ashutosh 'Gopal' Tandon, son of former Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon. He faces Samajwadi Party's Juhi Singh.In Saharanpur, hit by communal riots in August, the contest is mainly between Rajiv Gumber (BJP) and Sanjay Garg (Samajwadi) but Mukesh Kumar of the Congress is also in the reckoning.
In Bijnore, Hemendra Pal Singh (BJP) and Ruchivira (Samajwadi Party) are the strongest candidates. In Thakurdwara, where violence erupted in July after police removed loudspeakers from a Shiva temple, the voters are likely to be polarized on religious lines.BJP's Rajpal Chauhan is contesting against Nawab Jaan of the Samajwadi Party and Mohammad Ulla Khan of Congress. In Noida, the fight is between two women candidates. The Samajwadi Party has fielded strongman Guddu Pandit's wife Kajal Sharma. She takes on BJP's Vimla Batham and Congress's Rajendra Awana.
In Nighasan, Hamirpur, Sirathu and Balha, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party are the dominant contestants.The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is not contesting these bypolls. In Rohania, Krishna Patel is the Apna Dal candidate. In alliance with the BJP, the seat appears to be going her way due to a sizeable presence of Patels in the area. Her daughter Anupriya Patel was the legislator from here, but she is now an MP from Mirzapur.In Charkhari, vacated by union Minister Uma Bharti, six candidates are in the fray. BJP's Geeta Singh, Congress' Ram Jeewan and Kaptan Singh Rajput of the Samajwadi Party dominate the scene. The votes will be counted Sep 16.