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Gorakhpur Bypoll Underway, All Eyes on Non-Jatav Dalit and Non-Yadav Backward Votes

The BJP, while assured of upper caste votes, is worried about the non-Yadav Backward and non-Jatav Dalit votes, especially after the BSP’s backing to Samajwadi Party candidates.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:March 11, 2018, 12:44 PM IST
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Gorakhpur Bypoll Underway, All Eyes on Non-Jatav Dalit and Non-Yadav Backward Votes
The UP government is likely to announce development schemes for CM Yogi’s home turf Gorakhpur and Deputy CM Keshav Maurya’s Allahabad. (File photo)
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Gorakhpur: As Gorakhpur and Phulpur — two prestigious seats for the BJP — vote in by-polls on Sunday, all eyes will be on caste equations that may prove to be a game changer.

The BJP, while assured of upper caste votes, is worried about the non-Yadav Backward and non-Jatav Dalit votes, especially after the BSP’s backing to Samajwadi Party candidates. The bypolls were necessitated after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, respectively, following their election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.

Speaking to News18 after casting his vote on Sunday morning, Yogi Adityanath called the BSP-SP partnership an “unholy alliance”. “The voters will reject this opportunistic, unethical and unholy alliance,” he said.

However, ripples of this political realignment — which includes the Left Front, Nishad Party, Peace Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Krishna Patel faction of the Apna Dal — can be felt on the ground in Gorakhpur. The constituency, which is dominated by the non-Yadav Backward vote, especially that of the Nishad community.

It was keeping this vote bloc in mind that the Samajwadi Party fielded Praveen Nishad as its candidate against BJP's Brahmin face Upendra Shukla in Gorakhpur. Praveen is the son of Sanjay Nishad, the president of the Nishad party.

Though the Nishad Party won just one Assembly seat from Bhadhoi in 2017 elections, it got a respectable vote share on many seats in Gorakhpur region. Contesting from Gorakhpur Rural seat in 2017, Sanjay Nishad got above 20,000 votes despite the BJP wave.

Both in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had managed to bring the non-Yadav Backward and non-Jatav Dalit vote -bank to its fold. But this time, it’s a different ball game given the SP-BSP understanding for the bypolls.

Of 19 lakh voters in Gorakhpur, a little more than half are from the Backward Castes. Dalits, too, have a sizeable presence in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur.

Given that the BJP hold all five Assembly seats that fall under Gorakhpur, combined with the towering presence of Yogi Adityanath, the BJP is tipped to retain the seat, but the victory margin may bring some disappointment

In 2014, Yogi Adityanath had won the Gorakhpur seat by around 3.5 lakh votes. The opposition, on the other hand, will claim victory even in a narrow victory margin. It will then signal that the SP-BSP understanding was a successful experiment, which may be replicated for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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