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As Phulpur Votes in Bypoll, Local BJP Wary of BSP-SP Eating Into 50% Dalit Votes

There are around 5.5 lakh Scheduled Caste voters in the Phulpur constituency, who have traditionally voted for the BSP. If the BSP manages to convince its voters to shift entirely to the SP, the newly formed alliance may have a winning formula in its hands.

Uday Singh Rana | News18.com

Updated:March 13, 2018, 4:18 PM IST
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As Phulpur Votes in Bypoll, Local BJP Wary of BSP-SP Eating Into 50% Dalit Votes
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Allahabad: The ‘Sangam’ of BSP and SP for Allahabad’s Phulpur bypoll is quite visible on the streets with fleets of cars making rounds across the town. As flags of both parties flutter on either side of the cars, the ‘new friends’ are leaving no stone unturned to combat the saffron spread.

While BJP’s defeat in the recently-held Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by-elections may be a ray of hope for SP and BSP, their coming together has jittered the saffron party, even as BJP terms their move as "opportunistic". UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had recently said that the two parties have now become ‘Bahujan Samajwadi Party’.

Ashok Gautam, zonal coordinator of the BSP, said, “Since there was no BSP candidate in the fray in this bypoll, we were confused regarding our votes. Hence, we decided to meet Behenji (Mayawati) and speak to her, so that our votes don’t get divided. She suggested that we should support the strongest non-BJP candidate, which in this case is SP candidate Nagendra Patel. There is a lot of anger among the people against BJP and we are confident that they will lose this election.”

Claiming the ‘support’ as a mere necessity to battle BJP’s popularity, Allahabad BJP vice president Ashish Gupta said, “This is an opportunistic alliance. The two parties have nothing in common in terms of ideology. The leaders of SP and BSP may have announced support for each other, but their workers are not working in harmony. On the other hand, BJP has a simple message of development. That, not political alliances, will resonate with the people. Voters of all castes and communities have accepted the BJP.”

However, some sources in the saffron party said that they are wary of the Dalit vote going to the SP and are expecting at least 50% of the SC vote to shift.

“In such a scenario, the BJP may able to drum up winning numbers if don-turned-politician Ateeq Ahmed, who is contesting as an Independent candidate from Phulpur while behind bars, cuts into the SP’s support base. There are over 2.5 lakh Muslim voters in Phulpur and SP is concerned about the Ateeq Ahmed factor making a dent,” they said.

While both BJP and SP have fielded candidates who are Kurmis (a dominant OBC community in Eastern UP), it is the Dalits who might emerge as kingmakers. There are around 5.5 lakh Scheduled Caste voters in the Phulpur constituency, who have traditionally voted for the BSP. If the BSP manages to convince its voters to shift entirely to the SP, the newly formed alliance may have a winning formula on its hands.

“Whatever difference we (BSP-SP) had in the past, we have already buried it to ensure that the BJP does not win this seat again. Workers of both parties are working harmoniously with each other,” said BSP’s zonal coordinator.

The Phulpur constituency, in Allahabad, boasts of association with two prime ministers, including India’s first-ever. Jawaharlal Nehru had contested and won from here in 1952 and then again in 1957. Following his death, bypolls were held on the seat for the first time and were won by Nehru’s sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit. In 1971, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who would later go on to be Prime Minister, won this seat on a Congress ticket.

The bypoll on Sunday comes a week after Bahujan Samaj Party Mayawati announced that her party would support the Samajwadi Party candidates in both Phulpur and Gorakhpur seats.

In Phulpur, 19, 63, 543 (19.63 lakh) voters in across 2,155 polling booths will decide the fate of 22 candidates on Sunday. The counting of votes will take place on Tuesday.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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