In 11th Hour, Samajwadi Party Names Azam Khan’s Aide Asim Raja for Rampur Bypoll

The Samajwadi Party (SP), in a last-minute announcement, named Asim Raja as its candidate from Rampur for the Lok Sabha bypolls scheduled to take place on June 23. Raja, the Rampur city president of the party, is a close aide of party strongman and 10-time MLA Azam Khan.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav had on June 1 met senior party leader Azam Khan at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, a meeting that came amid speculations of a rift between both leaders.

The meeting lasted for nearly two and a half hours and according to sources, both leaders discussed the bypolls to the Rampur Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Khan after he was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly earlier this year. His support for any Samajwadi Party candidate contesting from the seat in elections this month is considered crucial.

Khan was reportedly upset with Akhilesh Yadav but on record, he has denied it. He was recently released on bail after 27 months in jail over allegations that included robbery and assault.

The BJP on June 4 announced its candidates for the bypolls and fielded Ghanshyam Lodhi from Rampur Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, from where Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s candidature was highly speculated after he missed out on a Rajya Sabha nomination.

Lodhi, a Samajwadi Party MLC who had joined the BJP ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, will contest from Rampur.

The Bahujan Samaj Party is not contesting this seat, and the Congress announced today that it will not contest either.

The Azamgarh and Rampur constituencies were vacated by Samajwadi Party leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Mohd Azam Khan respectively after winning the assembly polls.

In Azamgarh, the BJP has once again fielded Bhojpuri star Dinesh Lal Yadav ‘Nirahua’. ‘Nirahua’ had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 parliamentary election from Azamgarh against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.

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