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With Nishads and Mallahs in SP-BSP Corner, BJP in Trouble in Gorakhpur

Out of nearly 19.5 lakh voters in Gorakhpur, the biggest caste chunk is those of the Nishads and Mallahs, whose population is around 4.5 lakh, or nearly 23 per cent of the voters.

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Updated:March 14, 2018, 2:45 PM IST
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With Nishads and Mallahs in SP-BSP Corner, BJP in Trouble in Gorakhpur
File photo of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. (Getty Images)
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New Delhi: After nearly three decades of unstoppable success in Gorakhpur Lok Sabha Assembly elections, if BJP actually goes on to lose the seat, as the early trend suggests, the biggest reason will be the one-sided voting by the Nishads and Mallahs who are the majority voters in the seat.

Out of nearly 19.5 lakh voters in Gorakhpur, the biggest caste chunk is those of the Nishads and Mallahs, whose population is around 4.5 lakh, or nearly 23 per cent of the voters. The next biggest chunk of voters are 3.5 lakh Muslims that make for nearly 18 per cent voters. Dalits - of who there are nearly 3.5 lakh - together make up the third biggest chunk.

The SP, having fielded a candidate from the Nishad party, constituted a better caste coalition. Praveen Nishad, the SP candidate, is the son of NISHAD party chief Sanjay Nishad, whom the party was projecting as an emerging youth leader. Praveen Nishad didn't shy away from playing the Hindu card, by paying a much publicised visit to the Gorakhnath Mutt a few days before voting.

Bringing together Muslims through a regional Muslim-centric party - Peace party, and a backward centric -- Janwadi Party, SP ensured a solid charge on the BJP fortress. And to top it all, BSP's tacit support through its huge popularity among Dalits, made the SP's caste equation almost unbeatable.

BJP, on the other hand, had fielded Upendra Shukla, a one-time BJP rebel candidate who trounced BJP's official nominee in an assembly segment in Gorakhpur.

In the last Lok Sabha polls in Gorakhpur, BJP had bagged 51.8 % vote share while SP and BSP's combined share was 38.6 per cent. The emerging trends show a significant shift in the vote percentage away from the BJP.

BJP has held the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat for the last 27 years. In these nearly three decades, Adityanath has represented the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat for the last two decades, becoming MP for the first time at the age of 26, after taking over from his guru and the then head of Gorakhnath Mutt - Mahant Avaidyanath.

One reason for BJP's unstoppable success in Gorakhpur has been the tremendous influence of Gorakhnath Mutt. But with the backward castes firmly rallying behind their candidate fielded by the SP, the BJP doesn't seem to have been left with much to bank on.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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