Ad­van­tage BJP in Go­rakh­pur and Deo­ria dis­tricts

A 15,000 strong crowd gath­ered to cheer Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh in Sah­janwa, on Wed­nes­day.

The Sunday Guardian - - Covert - GO­RAKH­PUR-DEO­RIA

In Go­rakh­pur and Deo­ria dis­tricts of Pur­van­chal, which together send 16 leg­is­la­tors to the Ut­tar Pradesh Assem­bly, it is ad­van­tage BJP. If you stop at the city cen­tre or drive your way to the main mar­kets, you will find more peo­ple who af­firm their al­le­giance to the rul­ing party at the Cen­tre than those who sup­port the SP or the BSP. If the assem­bly is of ur­ban youth, “Modi, Modi” chants will fol­low if you ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion on the on­go­ing polls, re­mind­ing you of the strong wave for Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in 2014 that saw BJP can­di­dates win­ning in 71 of UP’s 80 Lok Sabha seats.

“The Go­rakh­pur Ur­ban seat will def­i­nitely go to the BJP, but in Go­rakh­pur Ru­ral, BJP’s Vipin Singh is fac­ing stiff com­pe­ti­tion from the Sa­ma­jwadi Party, be­cause in­cum­bent MLA Vi­jay Ba­hadur Ya­dav of the na­tional party has de­fected to the SP and is con­test­ing on the ‘cy­cle’ sym­bol,” said lo­cals on the out­skirts of Go­rakh­pur. Most peo­ple, in­clud­ing quite a few rick­shaw pullers and street ven­dors, said they would vote for the BJP, but ac­knowl­edged that the SP’s cam­paign was go­ing strong.

How­ever, the mi­nor­ity vot­ers seem to be root­ing for Mayawati, un­happy that the SP has fielded a BJP turn­coat. “Vi­jay Ba­hadur used to taunt Mus­lims in his speeches. Why should we em­brace him just be­cause he is con­test­ing from SP? We would rather vote for BSP’s Ra­jesh Pandey,” said Ak­bar, a youth. An­other voter from the mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity, who in­tro­duced him­self as Sad­dam, said Ra­jesh Pandey’s cam­paign is go­ing strong and they would not vote for a BJP rebel. “Ma­jor­ity of the Mus­lims in Go­rakh­pur Ru­ral are vot­ing for the BSP,” he said. An­other lo­cal, Pin­too Verma added: “The Dalit pop­u­la­tion is sig­nif­i­cant. If the SP loses the Mus­lim votes to BSP, it will be­come a two-way con­test be­tween the BJP and the BSP.”

A few kilo­me­tres away in Sah­janwa, where the Brah­min and Thakur pop­u­la­tion num­ber nearly 40,000, BJP’s Sheetal Pandey is a strong con­tender. The Ya­davs are some­where close to 40,000, keep­ing Yash­pal Rawat of the SP in the fray. The Dalit pres­ence is strong, too. “It could be any­body’s game. The win­ner may scrape through a cou­ple of thou­sand votes, but there is more hulla for the BJP,” said Vashisht Muni Singh and oth­ers at a pho­to­copy shop at the main mar­ket near Thana Chowraha in Sah­janwa.

BJP’s strength was on dis­play on 22 Fe­bru­ary when a 15,000 strong crowd gath­ered to cheer Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh, who had come to ad­dress a pub­lic meet­ing in Sah­janwa. But there is a fear among BJP sup­port­ers that if the BSP makes a dent in BJP’s Sahit­war votes (Singhs), then the na­tional party might lose. The Mus­lims in gen­eral said they would vote for “cy­cle”.

The gen­eral per­cep­tion is the BJP will re­tain the SC re­served con­stituency Kha­jani, which it won in 2012 com­fort­ably and wres­tle out Caimpi­yarganj where NCP’s in­cum­bent MLA Fateh Ba­hadur is try­ing his luck from the “lo­tus” sym­bol. In Pipraich, SP’s in­cum­bent MLA Ra­j­mati Devi is un­pop­u­lar and it is likely BSP’s Aftab Alam, the lone Mus­lim can­di­date for the seat may split the mi­nor­ity votes. This tricky pitch of­fers a win­dow to Ma­hen­dra Pal of the BJP, which stood a dis­tant third in 2012.

In Chauri Chaura, where BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah de­liv­ered a speech on 22 Fe­bru­ary, the BJP and its ally SBSP can wres­tle the seat from BSP’s sit­ting MLA Jay Prakash, the lo­cals said. In Chillu­par and Bans­gaon, the con­test is be­tween the SP and the BSP un­less the strong sup­port for PM Modi trans­lates into votes swiftly. All nine seats in Go­rakh­pur—Go­rakh­pur Ur­ban, Go­rakh­pur Ru­ral, Chillu­par, Bans­gaon (SC), Chauri- Chaura, Kha­jani ( SC), Sah­janwa, Pipraich and Caimpi­yarganj—will vote on Satur­day, 4 March.

In Deo­ria’s seven con­stituen­cies—Deo­ria, Ru­dra- pur, Pathard­eva, Ram­pur Karkhana, Bhat­par Rani, Salem­pur and Barhaj— where the vot­ers will cast their bal­lots on Satur­day, 4 March, peo­ple in gen­eral be­lieve the BJP is strong in at least five. At a crowded veg­etable mandi in Po­lice Line Gate, Deo­ria, Sachi­dananda Pandey is dis­cussing the up­com­ing polls with his cus­tomers. “It’s BJP vs BSP, but the na­tional party is way ahead,” he tells this re­porter, while all the oth­ers nod in agree­ment. “Jan­me­jay Singh (BJP’s in­cum­bent MLA) is not liked by the peo­ple. Any other can­di­date would have swept the con­stituency,” adds a cus­tomer.

A few me­tres into the mar­ket, where a group of em­ploy­ees have halted to or­der their evening snacks at a road side egg-roll stall, peo­ple were seen com­plain­ing about the Con­gressSa­ma­jwadi Party al­liance. “SP can­di­date J.P. Jaiswal is ac­tu­ally a Con­gress­man, who is con­test­ing on the SP sym­bol. Why should we vote for him? He fin­ished fourth on a Congress ticket last time,” said the owner of the stall, Dhanan­jay. Most peo­ple said the con­test is be­tween the BSP and the BJP in most seats in Deo­ria, ex­cept in Ru­dra­pur where Congress in­cum­bent Akhilesh Pratap Singh has “worked very hard for the con­stituency”. In Pathard­eva and Salem­pur, it is BJP vs SP, most lo­cals said.

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