VARANASI: While the predominantly caste-based parties in UP such as Apna Dal (S), Apna Dal (Kamerawadi), Nishad Party and Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldeo Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) are vying to create a niche for themselves by allying with major parties, the ruling BJP has deployed upper caste politicians to quell the resentment among a section of general category voters in the last phase of Assembly polls.
Two prominent BJP politicians — Union minister Giriraj Singh and IAS officer-turned- MLC AK Sharma — were pressed into action to quell the angst among Bhumihar voters in Varanasi and adjoining districts.
The Bhumihars have significant presence in 12-15 out of the 54 seats of nine districts going to polls on Monday.
Both the leaders have been holding small meetings in Bhumihar-dominated villages of Varanasi’s Sewapuri and Rohaniya seats for the last 5-7 days, where the upper caste voters have been upset with BJP denying tickets to candidates of their caste.
Arvind Kumar Sharma, the former bureaucrat and pointsman of PM Modi, held several meetings in Pindra, Rohaniya and Sewapuri, where the polarisation of Bhumihars has been helping the BJP’s cause.
Sharma also focussed on campaigning among upper castes in Mau, Azamgarh and Ghazipur districts. Further, the presence of J&K L-G Manoj Sinha, who offered prayers at temples and attended marriages in the region, might indirectly boost the prospects of BJP candidates Alka Rai and Sunita Singh in Ghazipur as well as Avdhesh Singh of Pindra in Varanasi district.
According to BJP worker Hemant Rai, Bhumihars hold significant influence on seats of Ghazipur, Mau, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Chandauli and Jaunpu.
“Bhumihars played a key role in 2017 poll wins on Rohaniya, Pindra and Sewapuri in Varanasi, Manjhwan in Mirzapur and Mohamdabad and Ghazipur Sadar seats of Ghazipur. We are confident that focussed work by Union minister Giriraj Singh and MLC AK Sharma will help the BJP again,” claimed Rai.