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Purvanchal Battle Intensifies as Brahmin Leaders Switch to Samajwadi Party Ahead of 2022 UP Polls

BSP MLA Vinay Shanker Tiwari and former MP Kushal Tiwari join Samajwadi Party in presence of party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. (Image: Akhilesh Yadav/ twitter)

BSP MLA Vinay Shanker Tiwari and former MP Kushal Tiwari join Samajwadi Party in presence of party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow. (Image: Akhilesh Yadav/ twitter)

It is a common saying in the political circles of UP that the battle for the state is determined by winning the Purvanchal seat.

The battle for the Purvanchal assembly seat has intensified ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh polls with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party going all out to win the majority, the Samajwadi Party poaching leaders, including sitting MLAs from BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party. Interestingly, some prominent Brahmin leaders joined the Samajwadi Party in Lucknow on Sunday. The leaders who switched to SP in the presence of party chief Akhilesh Yadav at the party office include Hari Shankar Tiwari’s sons: Vinay Shankar Tiwari, a BSP MLA from Chillupar seat of Gorakhpur and Kushal Tiwari who is a former MP from Sant Kabir Nagar.

The BJP has been focusing on the Purvanchal assembly seat with maximum rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and several development projects for the region. Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party has successfully poached some big political names from the key region, including the Mukhtar Ansari and Hari Shankar Tiwai families. The SP has also forged an alliance with smaller parties, including Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, which is said to have a good hold in many districts of the Purvanchal region.

Sources have revealed that at least nine sitting MLAs of BJP were in touch with SP top leadership and may soon switch over to Samajwadi Party.

Santosh Tiwari, the BSP candidate from Karnailganj, switched to SP and former Legislative Council Chairman Ganesh Shankar Pandey. However, the most talked-about name was BJP MLA from Khalilabad Digvijay Narayan alias Jai Chaubey who joined SP today. The switchover by Jai Chaubey is seen as a big setback to BJP in Purvanchal. Nephew of a BJP MP from Kushinagar is also expected to join SP.

Speaking to media after joining SP, the Chillupar MLA Vinay Shankar Tiwari said, “The BJP government has formed the government only for ruling the state. If anyone speaks against the government, he is sent to jail. Mutual brotherhood has ended in the entire state. Only people from a certain caste are being recruited in police stations, police outposts and other recruitments. There have been a lot of atrocities against people from Brahmin society.

Training guns on the ruling party, Tiwari listed “fake cases” in the Gorakhpur region, “At present, ‘encounter’ has become the ‘policy’ of the government. The government forcibly jailed principal of BRD Medical College and Dr Kafeel Khan was jailed in a fake case. A young man named Ankur Shukla was murdered in Gorakhpur.”

Taking a jibe against the BJP government, he said people are being sent to jail for a tweet. “This government has only inaugurated the schemes of the previous government. There is no work being done other than the division of society. Our district Gorakhpur is a flood-prone area, but no budget has been alloted. This government has not done any development,” added Tiwari.

Former chief minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said, “I welcome all the people who have joined Samajwadi Party today. I am happy that such a big and influential family has come with us and now there is no competition for the Samajwadi Party anywhere. I also welcome Payal who comes from the transgender community and we also appoint him as Chief of SP Kinnar (Transgender) Wing so that problems faced by people of the community could be solved.”

Launching a scathing attack against the BJP, Yadav said, “Looking at the state of work being done based on caste and religion, it looks like this government has adopted the policy of ‘divide and rule’ of the Britishers. While the British ruled by dividing, the BJP is ruling by spreading fear and atrocities. However, the people have now understood this, and the people in 2022 elections will teach them (BJP) a lesson.”

Further attacking the state government, the SP chief said, “The government has not been able to give tablets, laptops, etc., in the last four and a half years. The government that has not fulfilled its promises, how will anyone trust them? Today, people question unemployment, inflation, farmers, stray animals, etc. How will anyone forget the corona time when there was a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, medicine, floating dead bodies and mismanagement? When the pyres were burning the government was busy hiding them.”

It is a common saying in the political circles of UP that the battle for the state is determined by winning the Purvanchal seat. In 2017, the BJP won 106 out of 156 assembly seats in 26 districts, SP got 85 seats in 2012, and BSP got over 70 seats in 2007 – all from Purvanchal. This is the reason why the BJP is holding many of its programmes in Purvanchal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also conducted many tours in the region.

In the 2017 election, the BJP registered a significant victory in Purvanchal as it won 106 seats from this region. Back then, the BJP was contesting the election in alliance with Rajbhar’s SBSP. But the situation has changed now. Now with the Rajbhar, Ansari and Tiwari families consolidating under the banner of the Samajwadi Party, it will be interesting to see if Akhilesh Yadav can gain from these alliances and switchovers.

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first published:December 12, 2021, 16:59 IST