LUCKNOW: With the completion of five phases across 53 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the big battle shifts to deep east where all three major players—BJP, SP- BSP alliance and Congress — have a lot at stake. The next two phases across remaining 27 seats are set to witness nail-biting contests. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the fray from Varanasi, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is trying his luck from Azamgarh. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s political entry will also be on test in 41 eastern UP seats, besides the Yogi bastion in Gorakhpur.
It’s a prestige issue for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is also the mahant of the Gorakhnath peeth. BJP had lost Gorkahpur to the gathbandhan in 2014 bypoll after it was vacated by Yogi, who was the five-time MP since 1999.
The last two phases scheduled for May 12 and May 19, will play a major role in deciding the course of national politics. The BJP is concentrating on mobilising its core upper caste voters, besides non-Yadav OBCs to counter SP-BSP alliance arithmetic. It’s working to rope in Maurya, Kushwaha, Nishad, Bind, and Mallah among the most backward castes to bolster its chances. The gathbandhan is banking on Yadavs and Muslims in Azamgarh, Varanasi, Chanduali, Ballia and Phulpur seats. However, Azamgarh will set the tone for adjoining seats like Jaunpur, Varanasi and Gorakhpur.But if the Modi factor is handy for BJP in this arc, the Congress is relying on Priyanka’s charisma to turn the tide.
Of 27 seats remaining, the BJP had bagged 25 in 2014, losing Azamagarh to Mulayam Singh Yadav and the bypoll in Gorakhpur. Going by the 2014 poll percentage, Gathbandhan (SP+BSP) has a clear edge, even as Congress remains a fringe player. In 2014, while BJP had a vote share of 39.39% for the 27 seats, Mahagathbandhan share is a whopping 43.78%, with Congress at 6.07%. If the votes are factored in for the 27 seats, SP and BSP together with 50.11% vote share would easily beat BJP across 14 seats in the sixth phase. On the contrary, on 13 seats of seventh phase, BJP seems slightly ahead of gathbandhan
In Azamgarh, the Muslim dominated constituency, BJP has fielded Bhojpuri cinestar Dinesh lal Yadav ‘Niruaha’ against Akhilesh. Here, Dalits and Muslim together make a bigger chunk of around 5 lakh votes. However the BJP would rely on other backward castes and around 4 lakh upper castes.
Similarly, in Kushinagar, Congress’s Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh is locked in a tough triangular with Nathuni Prasad Kushwaha of alliancee and BJP’s Vijay Kumar Dubey. Besides, Sant Kabir Nagar, Mirzapur and Ghazipur will be interesting contests.
Meanwhile, Congress candidates RPN Singh (Kushi Nagar), Sanjay Singh (Sultanpur), and Ratna Singh (Pratapgarh) are locked in a triangular with BJP and alliance candidates, with the mood among various castes being difficult to predict.