The new found opposition unity in Uttar Pradesh will be on test once again in the coming Kairana Lok Sabha bypoll with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) appearing keen on throwing its hat in the ring.
Led by former union minister Ajit Singh, the RLD which has considerable influence in western UP, believes that both the caste and communal equations there are in its favour.
"The decision on which party will be given the ticket is for the senior leaders of opposition parties to decide...we want that the united opposition which had taken shape in the recent Lok Sabha by-elections (in Gorakhpur and Phulpur) should be expanded to defeat the BJP," RLD national spokesman Anil Dubey told PTI today.
"The RLD has been working among all sections of the constituency since the past several years and has won the goodwill, cutting across caste and communal lines. The party's senior leader Jayant Chaudhary has been leading this campaign," a senior RLD leader said on condition of anonymity.
While stressing that the RLD has expanded its support with the joining of Amir Alam and Nawazish Alam - both leaders having considerable influence in the area - he said the Congress is already in favour of Chaudhary contesting from the seat.
"Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has to take a call in this regard as BSP chief Mayawati has already gone on record saying that her party will not play an active role in any more by-elections," he said.
"We want a united opposition to consolidate and become stronger than it was during Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls ...this time around the Congress will also be a part of opposition to defeat the BJP," Dubey said.
Though in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP's Hukum Singh had bagged 5,65,909 votes, defeating Nahid Hasan of SP who got 3,29,081 votes, in the 2017 Assembly polls, out of the five Assembly segments in Kairana, the Congress had finished second in three and BSP on one.
The SP had won the Kairana Assembly seat while the Congress had lost Nakud, Gangoh and Shamli by slender margins and the BSP finished runners up in Thana Bhawan, he said.
The senior Congress leadership has been apprised of these details, he said.
Jats and Gujjars are the two dominating castes in Kairana and though the BJP is confident that Gujjars will stick with the BJP out of sympathy for deceased MP Hukum Singh, a Gujjar, the Jat voter could prove to be kingmakers and Ajit Singh is a Jat stalwart, he pointed out.
Even though the newly elected MP will have a short term of less than one year with the next Lok Sabha elections slated for early next year, the election will be crucial for the BJP as well as the rival political parties, as it may give an inkling of the shape of things to come in the near future.
It will also be an occasion for the BJP to salvage some pride after the drubbing it suffered in Gorakhpur and Phulpur and, therefore, it will not be leaving any stone unturned to keep its fortress intact.
The notification for the by-election will be issued on May 3 and the last date for filing of nomination is May 10. Scrutiny will be taken up the next day, while the last date of withdrawal is May 14.
Voting will be held on May 28 and counting of votes for both the consitituencies will be held on May 31.