In Bal­lia’s Phep­hna Seat, It’s Now Akhilesh vs Am­bika

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Phep­hna (Bal­lia): Once con­sid­ered to be the “face” of SP’s pa­tri­arch Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav in east UP’s ma­jor parts, for­mer min­is­ter a n d B S P n o mi n e e Am­bika Choud­hary is fight­ing a dif­fer­ent bat­tle against his old po­lit­i­cal ri­val San­gram Ya­dav this time. San­gram, who had chal­lenged Am­bika as BSP nom­i­nee in early 1990s and as Suheldev Bhar­tiya Sa­maj Party-Quami Ekta Dal can­di­date in 2012, is per­haps de­lib­er­ately se­lected by CM Akhilesh Ya­dav as SP’s nom­i­nee to counter Am­bika’s lo­cal in­flu­ence over the OBCs, par­tic­u­larly Ya­davs, apart f rom Mus­lims.

San­gram’s pres­ence in the fray in Phep­hna in 2012 was one rea­son which had stopped Am­bika from en­ter­ing the state as­sem­bly for the fifth con­sec­u­tive term. The po­lit­i­cal ri­valry be­tween Am­bika and San­gram ap­par­ently then led to the vic­tory of BJP nom­i­nee Upen­dra Ti­wari in 2012 de­spite a wave in favour of SP.

Am­bika’s exit from SP has much to do with his prox­im­ity with CM Akhilesh’ un­cle Shiv­pal Singh Ya­dav. De­spite los­ing the elec­tion in 2012, Am­bika was in­ducted into the Akhilesh min­istry. Later, Akhilesh dropped him.

“While in SP, Am­bikaji never ig­nored strength­en­ing roots of his party at the ground level here. Since he was very close to SP pa­tri­arch Mu­layam Singhji, he had in­de­pen­dently formed ground-level com­mit- tees within SP in this as­sem­bly seat. So, he got eas­ily mo­ti­vated all such cadres to work for him as BSP nom­i­nee in this elec­tion,” Su­darhsan Choud­hari, who is for­mer prad­han of Baleji vil­lage, ex­plained the prob­lems which San­gram faces in this seat af­ter for­mer CM Mayawati’s de­ci­sion to field Am­bika from this seat in Jan­uary this year.

Am­bika’s des­per­a­tion to re­tain his old lo­cal base clearly re­flects his strate­gies to ex­tend the BSP’s ex­ist­ing so­cial base in his as­sem­bly con­stituency in or­der to place him­self in a com­fort zone. “Old caste equa­tions are fast break­ing in this elec­tion. Am­bika has per­haps inkling about the BJP’s grow­ing sup­port base among the MBC vot­ers. So, he con­cen­trates mainly on his old sup­port base while BSP func­tionar­ies are on job to en­sure smooth trans­fer of their party’s base votes to him,” said Shyam Narain Singh, a re­tired school teacher in Phep­hna town.

While Am­bika is spend­ing sleep- less nights to touch the vil­lages dom­i­nated by OBC, An­sari broth­ers’ fresh as­so­ci­a­tion with the BSP has cre­ated prob­lem for the SP to keep its Mus­lim votes in­tact in this con­stituency. “SP nom­i­nee San­gram had got third po­si­tion in 2012 as­sem­bly polls only be­cause of the sup­port of An­sari broth­ers. So, Am­bika has rea­sons to hope for a divi­sion in the Mus­lim votes in view of An­sari broth­ers’ fresh as­so­ci­a­tion with the BSP in this elec­tion,” said Ch­hote Lal Pal, who runs a tea stall at Narhi on Ghazipur-Bal­lia road.

Early in­di­ca­tions sug­gest about unity among up­per castes to go with the BJP in this elec­tion. Ear­lier, a sec­tion of up­per castes used to sup­port the SP un­der the in­flu­ence of RS mem­ber Neeraj Shekhar, who is son­for­formerMPChan­drashekhar.

SHIV­PAL’S PROX­IM­ITY

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