Published On: Sun, Mar 11th, 2018

Big test for Adityanath on Sunday

Share This

THJC-PHULPURLUCKNOW : The prestige of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is at stake as Gorakhpur and Phulpur go to vote on Sunday in the Lok Sabha bypolls.

While the BJP, which rules UP with an overwhelming majority, has all to lose, the stakes are also high for the Opposition after BSP chief Mayawati went out of character and announced support to the Samajwadi Party (SP). The compatibility of the SP and BSP working together will be assessed on March 14, when results are declared.

Prestige, caste equations

The contest will not only determine the popularity of Mr. Adityanath and assess the ground situation of his colleague Keshav Prasad Maurya but also test the experiment of caste equations by both sides, in particularly Akhilesh Yadav, who has tried to stitch together a rainbow of castes.

In Gorakhpur, the BJP has fielded its regional office-bearer Upendra Shukla, a Brahmin, in what appears to be an attempt to calm the Brahmin-Thakur tensions that surfaced in the constituency after Mr. Adityanath’s rise to Lucknow.

Besides, Mr. Shukla, if he wins, will become the first MP in Gorakhpur since 1989 to not belong to the Gorakhnath temple. The SP has also attempted a social experiment in Gorakhpur by nominating an outsider, Praveen Nishad as its candidate. Mr. Praveen Nishad, an engineer by profession, belongs to the Nishad Party of which his father Sanjay Nishad is president.

Nishads have a good presence in the rural pockets of Gorakhpur and in the 2017 Assembly elections the Nishad Party secured over 60,000 votes in the three Assembly segments it contested in Gorakhpur. The community, an OBC, is associated with riverine life and counts bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi among their icons. Picking a Nishad is also an attempt by Akhilesh Yadav to cast a wider net of caste equation and bridge the gap between the SP’s core social base of Yadavs and other major OBC communities, the conflict between whom the BJP exploited last year.

Old rivalry

Add to that Ms. Mayawati’s core Jatav Dalit voters and Muslims, it becomes a formidable proposition, at least on paper. However, the incompatibility of Yadavs and Jatavs due to prolonged SP-BSP rivalry could prove to be a spoiler.

In Phulpur, both the SP and BJP have fielded Kurmis, who are arithmetically dominant in the constituency. The BJP won the seat for the first time in 2014 under the Modi wave and will consider it the tougher of the two contests. The seat also has a good number of Yadavs and Muslims and three rural segments where the SP and BSP alliance will be tested.

The SP’s Nagendra Patel will take on the BJP’s Kaushalendra Patel while the Congress is also in the fray with Manish Mishra. The equation in Phulpur turned complicated for the SP as its rebel Atiq Ahmed, a jailed former MP, filed nomination. Not only does Atiq have the potential to cut into Muslim votes but also turn the contest into a polarised fight, which will suit the BJP.

In 2014, the BJP’s Keshav Prasad Maurya won the seat by over 3 lakh votes, securing over 50% votes. In Gorakhpur too, the party crossed the halfway mark, winning by over 3 lakh votes.

 Akhilesh’s roadshow

On the eve of the voting, Akhilesh Yadav shared pictures of his roadshow in Phulpur on Twitter and said the people were “restless to vote the cycle” and give a fitting reply to the BJP for its “disruptive politics,” false promises, looting of banks and woes of farmers, traders and unemployed youths.

Over 39 lakh voters will decide the fate of 32 candidates in the two constituencies. Among them are only three women, including the Congress’ Surhita Karim in Gorakhpur.

The UP Chief Election Officer’s office said 4,728 EVM control units, 7,098 ballot units and 4,728 VVPATS have been deployed for the polls. “VVPAT facility will be available at all voting centres,” it said in a statement.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Untitled Album