2024 Lok Sabha polls: BJP banks on Modi charisma to cement hold in caste-defined east U.P. - Hindustan Times
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2024 Lok Sabha polls: BJP banks on Modi charisma to cement hold in caste-defined east U.P.

By, Varanasi
May 28, 2024 08:24 AM IST

In the heartland of Purvanchal, which goes to polls in the seventh and final phase on June 1, the BJP won nine out of 13 seats, including Varanasi, in the 2019 battle and two were bagged by its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal)

Looking to end the 2024 Lok Sabha election with a winning flourish in the seventh and final phase in Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh), the Bharatiya Janata Party is banking on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consolidate its electoral hold on the region where the BJP bagged all 13 seats in 2014 and nine out of 13 in 2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath during a road show in Varanasi on May 13. (AFP File Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath during a road show in Varanasi on May 13. (AFP File Photo)

Though Varanasi has been a BJP bastion particularly since 1991, barring an odd defeat in 2004, Modi’s entry into the poll fray as the BJP candidate in 2014 galvanised the party even as it stormed to power with an absolute majority to form the government at the Centre, unseating the Congress-led UPA, and winning 71 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Two seats were won by its ally Apna Dal then.

In the heartland of Purvanchal, which goes to polls in the seventh and final phase on June 1, the BJP won nine out of 13 seats, including Varanasi, in the 2019 battle and two, Mirzapur and Robertsganj, were bagged by its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal).

This time, it aims to win back the two seats it lost -- Ghazipur and Ghosi -- and retain those it won, largely powered by the Modi factor.

Varanasi has been a nursery of political diversity much like its multi-cultural ethos, but the electoral scene began to change in the early 1990s with increasing the dominance of caste and community factors.

The BJP won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat for the first time in 1991, retaining it in 1996, 1998 and in 1999. The Congress broke the BJP’s winning streak in 2004. But the BJP won back the seat in 2009 despite a modest show across the state where it could bag just 10 seats. The BJP won the Varanasi seat again in 2014 and 2019 under the Modi wave.

Overall, the BJP has won the seat seven times and the Congress eight. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) won the seat in 1967, the Janata Party in 1977, and the Janata Dal in 1989.

The Congress victories came in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1971, 1980 1984 and 2004.

Political analyst Prof Kaushal Kishore Mishra says, “The BJP worked hard in Varanasi to create a strong base. The movement for Ram Mandir helped strengthen it. With the passage of time, Varanasi has converted into a BJP bastion. After becoming Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has strengthened the fort further and made it impregnable.”

GHAZIPUR

Sharing its boundary with Ballia and Bihar in the east, Ghazipur Lok Sabha constituency was once a land of socialists and Marxists. The Congress won the seat five times in 1952, 1957, 1962, 1989 and 1984. The Communist Party of India (CPI) emerged victorious here in 1967, 1971 and 1991. The Janata Party won in 1977. Ghazipur also elected an Independent MP in 1989.

The Samajwadi Party and the BJP won the seat thrice each and BSP once in 2019. Caste equations dominate politics in the district from assembly polls to the parliamentary elections.

Yadav and Muslim voters have a dominant presence in the constituency and steer the elections.

“Support of the Yadavs is inevitable for victory here,” the locals say.

This time, the BJP has fielded Parasnath Rai, looking to win back the seat which Manoj Sinha, the current Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor, had lost to Afzal Ansari, then with the BSP and now the SP candidate. The presence of the BSP’s Umesh Kumar Singh makes the fight triangular.

CHANDAULI

Known as the rice bowl of eastern UP, Chandauli Lok Sabha constituency shares its borders with Bihar. The BJP has won the seat five times since 1991. The ruling party has fielded Union minister Mahendra Nath Pandey, the winner in 2014 and 2019, again. The BSP has reposed faith in Satyendra Maurya and the SP has fielded Virendra Singh. In the apparent absence of a wave, the caste equations are in focus in the 2024 polls.

The Congress won the seat four times in 1957, 1962, 1977 and 1984. The Socialist Party and Samyukta Socialist Party each won the seat once in 1959 and 1967 respectively. The Janata Party won the seat twice in 1977 and 1980 and the Janata Dal once in 1989.

Besides 2014, the BJP won the seat in 1991, 1996 and 1998. The Samajwadi Party was victorious in 1999 and 2009 and the BSP in 2004.

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