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UP Election 2017: BSP Rides on QED in Bid to Script a Comeback in Purvanchal

Sibaqtullah who won the last election by more than six thousand votes is however confident that Dalit-Muslim (DM) combination will help him consolidate any reverse polarisation.

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated:February 28, 2017, 1:05 PM IST
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UP Election 2017: BSP Rides on QED in Bid to Script a Comeback in Purvanchal
A TV grab of Mau MLA Mukhtar Ansari who was inducted in BSP. (CNN-News18)
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Varanasi: Four white SUVs come to a screeching halt outside a nondescript hotel in downtown Varanasi. It is well past 10pm, when we are ushered into the hotel lobby to meet Afzal Ansari.

"A lot would depend on Delhi High court's order on my brother's parole tomorrow. I will plan my campaign accordingly"; says Afzal ordering a cup of tea for us. The bhai, Mukhtar Ansari, has sought relief from court to campaign. He's now BSP's candidate in Mau.

Mukhtar's Quami Ekta Dal had merged with BSP on the eve of the elections. The first choice was Samajwadi Party. But denied entry by an adamant Akhilesh Yadav, the brothers had little option.

"Mulayam Singh Yadav spoke to me and showed if we merged the party, we would together have won four seats in 2014 general elections." says Afzal after a long day of campaigning.

Mukhtar Ansari's son Abbas is also trying his luck this time. So is his brother Sibaqtullah from Mahmoodabad in Ghazipur. He's the sitting MLA from the seat he won contesting on a Qaumi Ekta Dal ticket.

And challenging Sibaqtullah in this seat is Alka Rai of BJP, wife of Krishnanand Rai who was gunned down in broad daylight about a decade back. Mukhtar Ansari is an accused in the case. The rivalry between the two families here in Ghazipur is both personal and political.

"This is a fight against criminals" says Alka Rai when we catch up with her during election campaign. News has just come in that High Court has rejected Ansari's plea to campaign in Mau. "He would have otherwise influenced voters here as well," adds Rai.

Interestingly, SP has given this seat to the Congress, its alliance partner in the state. That has left about fifty thousand strong Yadav community in the constituency confused. And BJP is active trying to rope in this electorate in the fight against BSP.

" What all did they say about Mulayam Singh ji when their merger offers were spurred by the SP. Yadav community here is hurt and they will vote for us" says Alka.

Sibaqtullah who won the last election by more than six thousand votes is however confident that Dalit-Muslim (DM) combination will help him consolidate any reverse polarisation.

The footprints of this DM factor are spilling over to the adjoining Balia district where SP won 5 out of 7 seats in 2012. This is former PM Chandrasekhar's home ,and his son Neeraj is an SP MP in Rajya Sabha.

Adding to SP's trouble here is the rebellion by close aides of Shivpal Yadav, who where denied ticket by Akhilesh. Ambika Chowdhry and Narad Rai joined BSP just before polls and were nominated to fight elections on party symbol. Another Shivpal loyalist and former minister Shadab Fatima was sacked by the party chief at the peak of the family feud. She is not in the fray, but has the capacity to damage SP's prospects in Zahoorabad in Ghazipur.

Overall, in about two dozen seats of Poorvanchal, Mayawati is attempting to script a comeback by stitching together a last minute merger with Quami Ekta Dal. In UP, one generally needs three communities to mobilise a winning combination. Here in the last phase of UP polls, BSP strategy is simple, consolidate DM, and top it up with the caste vote of the party candidate.

The only worry for Mayawati remains the MBC votes like Rajbhar, Maurya and Nenua Chauhans who in the past had sought a natural socio-political affiliation with core BSP Dalit vote bank. BJP this election has aggressively wooed these communities. In fact, BJP's gambit in UP rests entirely on upper-caste, non-Yadav OBC consolidation.

Akhilesh Yadav by spurning any overtures from bahubalis of UP has attempted to create a new constituency across caste faultlines. He's sought to generate a new vote base outside the traditional Muslim-Yadav combo. That is all fine.

But what do you do with caste? The very fundamental of Indian politics.

(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
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