LUCKNOW: “Azamgarh is a VIP constituency, so its voters have an edge over others,” says Lal Bihari Mritak, chief of Mritak Sangh (Deadmen Association).
Eastern UP is basically a region dominated by places of religious importance: Gorakhnath Peeth in Gorakhpur and Varanasi are holy places for the majority community, while districts like Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Mau and Deorai have a chunk of Muslim population. The religious significance of the region is reiterated by the influence of saffron leaders like Yogi Adityanath, who claims to hold sway over 62 of the 89 seats going to polls in the last two phases.
Communal polarisation promoted by figures like Yogi Adityanath is coming in handy for the saffron party’s final stretch strategy, with the PM himself making much of kabristans and such like.
While Muslim voters play a key role in Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Mau, Jaunpur and Varanasi, “the role of non-Yadav OBCs and MBCs, who are dominant in some pockets, can also be a deciding factor in the last two phases,” says JP Shukla, a political analyst.
Keeping in view the backward caste demography, the BJP has spared a substantial 20 Assembly constituencies in the last two phases to its allies —Anupriya Patel-led Apna Dal and Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suhel Dev Bharatiya Samaj Party. Apart from those 20 seats, the two NDA allies are likely to play a crucial role in attracting Kurmis and most backward classes to the BJP fold.
With the SP-Congress alliance banking on the Muslim-Yadav combination in and around Azamgarh district, the BSP’s ploy to merge the Quami Ekta Dal (QED) of the Ansari brothers will be put to test here. How far will QED be able to consolidate Muslim-Dalit voters in Behenji’s favour is another interesting aspect to be noticed. The Ansaris are said to have a direct impact on 20-odd seats in and around their den.