‘Have got lotus to bloom in Azam bastion’: BJP’s Rampur winner

“Azam Khan ke gadh mei kamal khilaye hain (we have got the lotus to bloom in Azam Khan’s bastion),” says Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi. The BJP candidate from Rampur is celebrating his bypoll victory at his farmhouse, filled with party workers chanting his name.
The victory is doubly sweet for Lodhi — he recently left the Samajwadi Party for the BJP and has reaped the rewards. Though the voter turnout was less than 50 per cent, Lodhi won the Lok Sabha seat with over 40,000 votes more than SP’s Asim Raja.

“This is an achievement for all the party workers who worked hard for months. I felt the Samajwadi Party didn’t deserve the win because they have no vision and no ambition. I left the party because I wanted to change things. Today, I have support from everyone” he says.

At the Samajwadi Party office, meanwhile, the disappointment of the loss is hard to shake off.

“I don’t want to say much but it is sad to lose in Rampur. We had hopes and it’s a bad loss. We did push for more votes but everything was hay-wire. The nomination was filed at the last moment and there wasn’t much support from the leaders. We have the potential and will work towards the next elections,” said an SP spokesperson at the office, one of the few people present there. The other workers alleged that BJP fought the elections with unfair means.

The most disappointed, understandably, was the veteran Azam Khan himself, who refused to accept the result. “Why would you call this an election? My workers were detained and beaten up. Our supporters were threatened and abused by the police. Lodhi is lucky he has a party that can bend rules and be happy. I can’t do all that. I have spent months in jail. I run schools here and am a chancellor of the university. My aim has always been to help people. But can one fight with police and the goondagardi against us? We were called names and people were stopped from voting. There were only 6 votes from a place where 900 votes could come. I refuse to believe this was a fair election,” he said.

“I will not give up. I resigned and the seat was given to Asim Raja because he is a deserving candidate. We will continue to work towards the betterment of people. They can’t win all elections with violence,” added Khan.

In the town itself, the streets were quiet after the results were announced and many refused to talk about the elections. Many local residents said they were happy with the results but didn’t expect much.

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One resident said: “I saw the results on TV. We hope they do make some changes here. Power cuts and roads are a huge issue. This is a developing city and we want change.”

Baldev Singh Aulakh, a BJP MLA from Bilaspur constituency who came to meet Lodhi, said: “We have been working very hard to get the two SP seats. Our workers were campaigning every day and we have a vision for the betterment of people. We are not thinking of communities but want to give people more jobs and better opportunities in Rampur. I think people understand that and want us to help them. In 2024, all 80 seats will be ours”

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