It was not without reason that BSP president Mayawati carved out a new district from a portion of Faizabad on September 29, 1995, and named it Ambedkar Nagar after Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar.
She is reaping the political dividends of the decision even today as the district remains a BSP stronghold.
The only exception, however, was the 2012 assembly election when the Samajwadi Party made a clean sweep on all five assembly seats of Ambedkar Nagar -- Akbarpur, Jalalpur, Katehari, Alapur and Tanda.
BSP president Mayawati has been three-time MP from Akbarpur parliamentary constituency (now Ambedkar Nagar) and MLA from Jahangirganj assembly (now Alapur).
The BSP is leaving no stone unturned to make a comeback in its pocket-borough Ambedkar Nagar.
In Tanda constituency, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in direct contest with the Samajwadi Party. Sanju Devi, widow of BJP leader Ram Babu Gupta (who was murdered on March 3, 2013), is posing a stiff challenge to sitting SP MLA Azeem-ul-Haq alias Pehalwan.
As one enters Ambedkar Nagar from Faizabad, covering 52 km on a state highway, BSP’s footprints are clearly visible. The Mahamaya College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology at Shiv Baba Mandir crossing on the state highway is a testimony to projects rolled out by Mayawati in Ambedkar Nagar.
The district has a medical college, Mahamaya Rajkiya Allopathic Medical College, Manyawar Kanshiram Engineering College of Information Technology and Ramabai Government Women Post-Graduate College.
At the famous Shiv Baba Mandir crossing, only a few metres away from Manyawar Kanshiram Engineering College of Information Technology, a roadside tea stall is brimming with political discussion.
Owner of the tea stall Guru Prasad said: “Behenji (Mayawati) has done a lot for this place (Ambedkar Nagar). Here it is BSP versus the others.”
Ram Surat, a local resident, cannot agree more with Guru Prasad.
“Behenji (Mayawati) must form the next government in the state. This time we will vote for the BSP candidate,” said Ram Surat.
Another resident Hemant Kumar Tewari said, “BJP is also a strong contender on all five assembly seats of Ambedkar Nagar.”
Shiv Baba Mandir area falls under Akbarpur assembly constituency of the district. Ram Achal Rajbhar, an old loyalist of BSP chief Mayawati and minister in the last BSP government in 2007, is set to give a tough fight to sitting SP MLA Ram Murthy Varma.
A few metres from Shiv Baba Mandir crossing is Shiv Baba Dham, a famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
A heated discussion is underway at the residence of the temple’s mahant Om Prakash Goswami. The participants include the mahant, a diehard BJP supporter, and a Congress supporter Ghanshyam Gupta. Though not BSP supporters, both of them are all praise for Mayawati.
“What Sheila Dikshit (ex-Delhi CM) has done (development) for New Delhi, Mayawati has done for Ambedkar Nagar. No one can deny this fact,” Gupta said. Mahant Goswami agrees with him.