BJP turncoat in fray, Mirzapur weighs the hat-trick question of Anupriya

The constituency has a good number of OBCs, SC/ST communities, Thakurs and Brahmins, and the caste dynamics can influence the results.
Anupriya Patel (C), Ramesh Bind (L) and Manish Tiwari.
Anupriya Patel (C), Ramesh Bind (L) and Manish Tiwari.Illus tration: Mandar Pardikar

VARANASI: Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel, 43, is braving the heat and dust of Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur to reach out to the constituency’s voters who elected her in 2014 and 2019. She is eyeing a third term to boost the prospects of her party Apna Dal- Sonelal, which has grown to become a staunch ally of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

Daughter of Apna Dal founder and OBC leader Sonelal Patel, Anupriya is pitched against Ramesh Bind, the sitting BJP MP from adjoining Bhadohi who joined the SP after the saffron party denied him a ticket.

According to observers, Anupriya’s hat-trick chances are not that strong as she is facing multiple challenges including anti-incumbency, allegations of bias towards her Kurmi vote base, and a possible electoral backlash from the Thakur community following her remarks against Raghuraj Pratap Singh ‘Raja Bhaiya’.

Mirzapur has a chequered history, having sent the likes of Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi and dreaded dacoit Shiv Kumar Patel’s brother Bal Kumar Patel to Parliament in the past. The constituency has a good number of OBCs, SC/ST communities, Thakurs and Brahmins, and the caste dynamics can influence the results.

Anupriya’s recent statement that “now kings are born from EVMs and not the wombs of queens” triggered a controversy as it was interpreted as targeting the powerful Thakur politician Raghuraj Pratap Singh, descendent of an erstwhile royal family. His supporters are now campaigning against Patel.

However, some see the controversy as a blessing in disguise for Anupriya, who was earlier facing polarisation of backward sections towards SP’s Bind. “Now there is reverse polarisation of Brahmins, OBCs and most backward voters in support of her,” says senior journalist Neeraj Pandey. Also, such a reverse consolidation in Patel’s favour could damage the poll prospects of BSP candidate Manish Tiwari.

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