Caste, Not Development, Will Influence Voting Patterns in UP’s Purvanchal in Phase 6 and 7
In Purvanchal, the Congress wants to retain its core vote bank of upper caste Sawarns and Muslims, and the BJP is facing the challenge of retaining upper caste and OBC voters.
File photo of Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra campaigning in Uttar Pradesh. (Image: PTI)
Lucknow: With voting in five phases of Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh over, the focus has now shifted to the sixth and seventh phases, which will be held on May 12 and 19 for the remaining 27 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Purvanchal region in the state plays a crucial role in determining the government at the Centre and it is said that party that wins Purvanchal also forms the government at the Centre.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Modi wave helped the BJP fetch 26 out of 27 seats in the region. It was only Azamgarh that was won by the Samajwadi Party with Mulayam Singh Yadav as its candidate. In 2009, when the UPA once again formed the government at the Centre, Congress had bagged 21 Lok Sabha seats in UP, out of which 18 were from the Purvanchal region. This is why both the BJP and SP-BSP alliance are focusing on these 27 crucial Purvanchal seats.
In the sixth phase, 14 seats that will go for polling include Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shrawasti, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadohi.
Meanwhile, with an aim to revive the party in the state and to take the tally further up from two seats, the Congress has played its trump card by roping in Priyanka Gandhi and making her in-charge of the eastern Uttar Pradesh. The SP-BSP alliance has minutely worked out the caste equations in this region, while the BJP is still relying on PM Modi’s magic to repeat the performance of 2014.
The Purvanchal region is known to have turned several strongmen into politicians and most parties try to cash in on the local Robinhood-like image of these politicos by having them on their side.
Politicians from Purvanchal, who had multiple criminal cases against them before they took the political plunge, include Mukhtar Ansari, Dhananjay Singh, Ateeq Ahmad, Harishankar Tiwari, Ajay Rai and Ramakant Yadav.
Another important factor that will determine the politics fate of the Purvanchal region is the caste equation. In some seats, Brahmin and Thakurs are the deciding factors and in other, it’s the Muslim, Dalit and Yadav combination that seems to be at play. The Congress wants to retain its core vote bank of upper caste Sawarns and Muslims, and the BJP is facing the challenge of retaining upper caste and OBC voters.
Speaking to News18, senior journalist Navneet Tripathi said that caste plays a more important role than any other factor in the Purvanchal belt. “The equation is very trivial in when it comes to Purvanchal. The issue of development takes a backseat here and that is why most parties are inclined towards working out the caste arithmetic. Also, the Brahmin and Thakur voters play an important role in this region. In 2014, these two castes backed the BJP fully, but this time it seems they are a bit confused. Even after being politically active, the issue of development is not as important as caste in Purvanchal region.”
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