Rampur (UP): The BJP on Thursday won the Rampur Sadar assembly seat for the first time as its candidate Akash Saxena defeated his nearest Samajwadi Party rival Asim Raja by a margin of 33,702 votes in a bypoll.
The bypoll to the Muslim-dominated Rampur Sadar seat, considered an Azam Khan stronghold, was necessitated after the senior SP leader was sentenced to three years in jail in a hate speech case, and subsequently disqualified as MLA and barred from contesting polls for six years.
Reacting to the result, Asim Raja questioned the fairness of the election process, claiming police "did not allow people to cast their votes in the city and looted booths".
"There was only 20 per cent polling on booths in the city. Police had captured booths. Over two lakh voters were not allowed to cast votes. In areas where there was an SP booth (area where the party thought majority of voters were its supporters) were looted. We have made a complaint to the EC," he alleged.
Winning BJP candidate Saxena said the people of the constituency including Pasmanda Muslims voted for the party. He thanked people for showing faith in the BJP.
This is the first time the BJP has won the Rampur Sadar assembly seat.
Coming as it does just months after the BJP's victory in the June by-poll to the Rampur Lok Sabha seat, the result means Azam Khan's hold over the electorate in the region, considered his bastion, is waning.
Saxena was handed over the winners certificate by the Returning Officer.
The bypoll to the seat, held by Azam Khan since 1980, was conducted on December 5.
In the general assembly polls earlier this year, Khan had registered a convincing victory, defeating Saxena by around 55,000 votes to win the seat for a 10th time.
The senior SP leader had conducted a strong campaign in the by-poll, which many linked to his prestige.
It is from this seat that Azam Khan reached the Uttar Pradesh assembly for the first time in 1980 on a Janata Party (Secular) ticket.
Later, he was elected on a Lok Dal ticket in 1985, from Janata Dal in 1989, Janata Party in 1991 and Samajwadi Party in 1993.
Although he had to face defeat at the hands of Afroz Ali Khan of the Congress in the 1996 assembly elections, Khan wrested the Rampur Sadar seat in the 2002 assembly elections, and won all subsequent polls -- 2007, 2012, 2017 and 2022.
After winning the Rampur Lok Sabha elections in 2019, he resigned as MLA. His wife Tazeen Fatima won the assembly by-election held in October 2019 on a SP ticket.
In this by-election, the SP fielded Asim Raja, considered close to Khan who sought votes from the public through an emotional appeal when he referred to the "atrocities committed" on him.
The SP had demanded the cancellation of the Rampur by-election, alleging the administration there did not allow pro-SP voters to cast their votes.