Fate of PM Modi, 3 ministers at stake in last leg of electoral razzle-dazzle in UP

While the BJP is contesting 10 seats, it has left three for allies. Apna Dal (S) is contesting Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC) and OP Rajbhar’s son Arvind is testing the poll waters in Ghosi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra ModiFile photo

LUCKNOW: With India's electoral saga now reaching its climax, Uttar Pradesh is poised to witness a battle of nerves over 13 seats in the last leg with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the fray seeking a third consecutive term from Varanasi.

Besides Modi’s Varanasi, UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s stronghold Gorakhpur will also go to the polls on Saturday.

Interestingly, apart from the PM, the concluding phase of the electoral razzle-dazzle in UP will decide the fate of three Union Ministers: Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey from Chandauli, Anupriya Patel from Mirzapur and Pankaj Chaudhury from Maharajganj.

This phase will also test the influence of Other Backward Caste leaders who have aligned with National Democratic Alliance (NDA). While Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal (S), Om Prakash Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), Sanjay Nishad of NISAHD and Dara Singh Chauhan will have to prove their mettle, the political future of opposition leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya will also be decided.

Of the 80 seats in the state, the last 13 to go to the polls in the final phase on Saturday include Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC).

While the BJP is contesting 10 seats, it has left three for allies. Apna Dal (S) is contesting Mirzapur and Robertsganj (SC) and OP Rajbhar’s son Arvind is testing the poll waters in Ghosi.

Similarly, in the opposition bloc, the Samajwadi Party is contesting 10 seats leaving Varanasi, Maharajganj and Deoria for ally Congress.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-led NDA had won 11 of the 13 seats of this phase whereas the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had clinched two -- Ghosi and Ghazipur – while contesting in alliance with the SP. However, the SP and Congress had failed to open their account.

Besides having the task of reclaiming the two seats it had lost in 2019, the BJP has the bigger challenge of increasing PM Modi’s victory margin from the previous figure of 4.80 lakh. On the other hand, the three union ministers are locked in a tough battle with rivals in their respective constituencies.

Gorakhpur, where the sitting BJP MP Ravi Kishan, the Bhojpuri actor, is seeking a second term and Ghazipur, witnessing its first election after the demise of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, will also be in focus. In Ghazipur, Mukhtar’s elder brother Afzaal Ansari is the opposition bloc’s candidate. In 2019, Ansari had won the seat as the BSP candidate backed by the SP.

The SP and the Congress, which are allies this time, face the challenge of opening their account in the region. The phase will also be a test of the BSP’s strategy of going it alone in 2024.

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