Little ground support to main players in big battle for Ballia

Road to poll success for the two prime contenders seem to be far from easy, particularly due to the indifferent approach of the senior local leaders of their parties.
Little ground support to main players in big battle for Ballia

VARANASI: Both the prime contenders from Ballia Lok Sabha seat of eastern Uttar Pradesh – which goes to polls in the last phase on June 1 – seem to be running short of the whole-hearted support of their senior party leaders.

The seat, housing 19 lakh-plus voters, is all set to witness a tough contest between the BJP candidate Neeraj Shekhar (2008 and 2009 SP winner son of eight-times former winner and ex-PM Late Chandra Shekhar) and the SP candidate Sanatan Pandey, who lost the 2019 battle by just 15,000-plus votes.

While Shekhar’s win from the seat will mean a hat trick of wins for the BJP, but if Pandey gets victory, it will be the first time in the 72-year-old history of the seat that a Brahmin politician will win the seat, which has earlier been won 14 times by Kshatriya politicians, three times by Kayastha candidates and once by a Yadav.

But the road to poll success for the two prime contenders seem to be far from easy, particularly due to the indifferent approach of the senior local leaders of their parties, many of whom were in the race for the party tickets.

In the SP candidate Sanatan Pandey’s case, he seems to have got the ticket not only as he lost by just 15,000-plus votes to BJP’s Virendra Singh ‘Mast’ in the 2019 battle, but also due to the tussle between two other contenders, ex-ministers Ambika Chaudhary (a powerful Yadav politician considered close to SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav) and Narad Rai (a Bhumihar Brahmin leader who was a minister in SP governments).

Rai, the former MLA from Ballia-Sadar assembly segment, is reportedly particularly upset over being ignored on the stage of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s Sunday rally in Phephana assembly segment. Rai is reportedly said to be in touch with the BJP candidate Neeraj Shekhar and was holding a meeting of caste people at a temple for deciding the future course of action.

On the other hand, three key BJP leaders in Ballia, including 2019 winner Virendra Singh ‘Mast,’ former minister Anand Swaroop Shukla, who were not actively campaigning for Shekhar, have now joined campaign, perhaps after instructions from the BJP’s top leadership.

Tough contest in Ballia

The Ballia seat, that houses 19 lakh-plus voters, is all set to witness a tough contest between the BJP candidate Neeraj Shekhar (2008 and 2009 SP winner son of eight-times former winner and ex-PM Late Chandra Shekhar) and the SP candidate Sanatan Pandey, who lost the 2019 battle by just 15,000-plus votes.

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