UP by-polls: Prestige at stake for both BJP and SP?

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Yogi Adityanath addressed the supporters on a truck after denied speech at rally in Lucknow.
As model code of conduct on 11 Assembly segments and a Lok Sabha seat in Uttar Pradesh will come into effect from Thursday evening, the vociferous campaigning in these areas will come to an end. But, the recent war of words and chain of event have made the September 13 by-polls a matter of prestige for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and its biggest rival the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

BJP's prestige is at stake

After the verbal battle between the two parties became so personal both want a clean sweep all the seats and prove their mettle in what is termed as the semi-finals before 2017 Assembly polls in the state of UP.

The BJP wants to fair in the state by-polls at any cost, because a loss in UP would definitely send wrong signals across the party line and will also give its opponents (i.e. SP, BSP, Congress) an easy opportunity to rise against the saffron party in 2017 assembly polls in the state.

The party, seems to have understood that loss of even a single seat in UP would its opponents a chance to attack it. Hence, the party wants to win all of them.

To ensure a clean sweep in the by-polls, the BJP had given its state unit's leadership in the hands of firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath. Yogi, BJP's Gorakhpur MP, has vociferously campaigned in all the poll bound segments in the state and raised the controversial issue of 'love jihad' to highlight the inability of the Akhilesh Yadav-led Government for safeguarding the interests of the society. He had also accused the state government for being soft at those who are indulged in practising 'love jihad'.

SP is facing its worst ever credibility crisis

On the other hand, these are tough times for the ruling Samajwadi Party government in UP, which is facing widespread criticism for failing to control deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

Was last minute ban on Adityanath's rally a planned move?

Hence, the UP administration early this morning filed an FIR against Adityanath for defying a ban and going ahead with his public addresses in Lucknow. The administration also filed a charge sheet against BJP chief Amit Shah in connection with hate speech case in Muzaffarnagar, during Lok Sabha poll campaign.

Adityanath, however, accused the district administration of not allowing him to hold rally at the behest of Akhilesh government. He alleged that the police served him the notice at the eleventh hour when he was raising voice against "communal agenda" of the state government.

"I had to hold meetings at Thakurdwara, Mainpuri and Nighasan but the district administration did not allow me to do so. The district administration had withdrawn permission on directions of the government in an illegal way," he alleged.

While the government had to face huge embarrassment today when the court refused to take cognizance of the case. The court refused to take the case as police had not followed the provisions of CrPc and filed the charge sheet in a haste.

The haste in both these cases reflect the Akhilesh Yadav government's desire to malign the BJP for political gains just hours ahead of by-polls.

Was ban on Adityanath's rally a planned move?

The Akhilesh Yadav government may have cited inflammatory speeches for banning Adityanath's speeches but the way the entire case was handled certainly raises several questions over state government's approach. The chain of events prove that the ban imposed over BJP's star campaigner was more out of a gag and political fear.

A senior correspondent Biswajeet Banerjee was quoted by Niticentral as saying, "First Yogi Adityanath was allowed to hold a rally in poll-bound east Lucknow area but just minutes before his address the district administration objected to it and banned the rally."

"What's shocking is the fact that the local administration neither tried to send the crowd gathered to participate in the rally nor informed the Gorakhpur MP about canceling his rally, the moment he arrived at the Lucknow airport. Instead the police escorted him to the rally venue and then informed him about the same," said Banerjee.

Adityanath defied the ban and went ahead with his election meeting in Lucknow and accused the SP government of following a communal agenda.

Banerjee further said, "As there is an old mosque near the rally venue, the state government had hoped denying permission to hold rally at the last moment would spark a communal tension in the area. This would have given an opportunity to the government to polarise votes in entire western UP region. But, its trick backfired on the SP regime."

A lot will be at stake as both these parties test waters in the UP, months after the BJP had won record 71 out of 80 parliamentary seats from the state. The BSP has already distanced itself from the bye-elections while the Congress is nowhere in the game.

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