Can the BJP rebel on SP ticket upstage the caste calculus against Anupriya Patel in Mirzapur? - Hindustan Times
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Can the BJP rebel on SP ticket upstage the caste calculus against Anupriya Patel in Mirzapur?

By, Varanasi
May 28, 2024 08:26 AM IST

In the eastern U.P. town of Mirzapur, famous for the Maa Vindhyavasini shrine, Union minister Anupriya Patel, leader of the BJP ally Apna Dal (S), is caught in a tough battle. The SP has fielded sitting BJP MP from Bhadohi Ramesh Bind as its candidate. The Opposition’s move is aimed at disturbing the Kurmi-dominated OBC caste dynamics in the constituency. This dynamics has worked well since 2014 both for Apna Dal (S) and the BJP-led NDA.

The Kurmi-dominated OBC caste dynamics has worked favourably for Apna Dal (Sonelal) and the BJP-led NDA in the eastern UP town of Mirzapur, famous for the Maa Vindhyavasini shrine and brassware utensils, since 2014 when the BJP swept to power riding the Modi wave.

Union minister and Apna Dal (Sonelal) chief Anupriya Patel at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh. (ANI FILE PHOTO)
Union minister and Apna Dal (Sonelal) chief Anupriya Patel at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh. (ANI FILE PHOTO)

This time, seeking a hat-trick of wins from the constituency, Union minister Anupriya Patel leader of the BJP ally Apna Dal (S), is facing a stiff challenge from the Samajwadi Party candidate Ramesh Bind, the sitting BJP MP from Bhadohi who turned rebel after the ruling party dropped him. Clearly, the Opposition’s move is aimed at disturbing the caste dynamics.

“Though inflation and unemployment are being discussed, these will not make an impact on the election. Ultimately, the caste factor will dominate the election,” says Rakesh Kumar Singh, a resident of Dagdagawa in Marihan assembly segment of Mirzapur, which will vote in the final round of the seven-phase Lok Sabha election on June 1.

Eventually the Patel votes will go to Anupriya Patel and the largest chunk of Bind votes will go to Bind, he says. A large section of Brahmins are supporting the NDA candidate Anupriya Patel while 30% of the community is going with the Bahujan Samaj Party, whose candidate Manish Tripathi is a Brahmin, he adds.

Rajendra Prasad Vaishya, a trader in Kalwari area of Mirzapur, says, “It is a direct battle between the Apna Dal (S) and the Samajwadi Party. Like the past, in this election too, caste equation is going to play a decisive role.”

Kols, Patels (Kurmis), Binds and Brahmins will decide the election since they together account for over seven lakh votes. The candidate they support will taste victory, says Vaishya.

Santosh Umar, vice president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vaishya Mahasabha, a resident of Mirzapur, says, “The Vaishya community is a staunch supporter of the BJP and Apna Dal (S) is a trusted ally of the NDA. Vaishyas are therefore supporting Apna Dal (S) candidate Anupriya.”

On the other hand, Alok Nath, resident of Rajgarh, says the bicycle (SP poll symbol) is moving very fast here.

Countering this view, Rakesh Kumar Patel says, “Both the caste arithmetic and equations are in favour of Anupriya at present. Though she is in a tough contest, she enjoys the support of locals across the constituency.”

A few people praise Anupriya for developmental works carried out in Mirzapur and cite a state university, a medical college, upgradation of Mirzapur railway station among the works done during the last five years.

Political analyst Amaresh Chandra says the Brahmins are happy with the construction of the Vindhyachal Corridor that has beautified Maa Vindhyavasini temple and expanded the premises around it. Devotees offer prayers to Maa Vindhyavasini Temple and go to Kali Khoh where they offer prayers to Maa Kali and then Maa Ashtbhuja at Maa Ashtbhuja Temple. In villages, the locals talk about it. You may guess whom they will support, says Chandra.

Ashok Munna of Samajwadi Party claims that the SP has an edge over the Apna Dal (S), whereas Kashi region BJP Backward Morcha vice-president Somnath Vishwanath observes that the NDA candidate Anupriya Patel’s position is very strong.

Mirzapur is famous for brass utensils, which have been included in the Uttar Pradesh government’s One District, One Product scheme.

Mirzapur Metal Traders Association’s general secretary Rajendra Agarwal says, “This is a cottage industry. It provides employment to over 35000 artisans. Around 500 manufacturers are involved in it. The entire cottage industry is roughly around 900 crore. Generally, politicians take this cottage industry casually.” He says they should take it seriously since this is an employment generating cottage industry.

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