Crucial last two phases: Purvanchal set for intense NDA, INDIA bloc battle - Hindustan Times

Crucial last two phases: Purvanchal set for intense NDA, INDIA bloc battle

May 22, 2024 05:58 AM IST

Intense battle in Purvanchal as BJP faces SP-Congress alliance in UP's final stages. BSP's solo stance adds complexity. BJP aims to retain and gain seats, SP relies on 'PDA' formula.

Political arena in the crucial Purvanchal region of the state is poised for an intense battle with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies facing a litmus test against the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance as the general election in UP enters final stages.

For Representation Only (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
For Representation Only (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

Purvanchal, comprising 27 LS seats (14 in the sixth phase and 13 in the seventh and last phase), has emerged as a pivotal battleground, drawing attention due to its electoral significance and complex political and caste dynamics.

Analysing the 2022 assembly poll results sets the stage for a closely contested face-off between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the SP-Congress combine.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), unlike in 2019, preferred to go solo in 2024 and hence may at the most benefit or harm the NDA and the INDIA alliance on some seats depending on local factors since the contests appear to be straight between the NDA and the INDIA alliance.

In the 2022 assembly polls, the SP had won 45 out of 135 seats in Purvanchal. The Congress also made inroads with victories in two constituencies, while the BSP had bagged one seat. Conversely, the BJP managed to win 69 seats with its allies securing an additional 18.

The fight may be even more intense in the sixth phase featuring 14 LS seats. It was in this region only that the SP won more seats than the BJP in the 2022 assembly polls.

Of the 70 assembly seats under the 14 LS constituencies, the SP emerged victorious on 34 seats while the NDA bagged 43 seats with the BJP winning 34 and its allies nine.

The SP had swept all the assembly seats under Ambedkar Nagar, Lalganj and Azamgarh LS constituencies. The Congress and the BSP also won one assembly seat each in this region in 2022.

The SP won 11 of the 70 assembly seats under the 13 LS constituencies that will go to polls in the last phase on June 1.

Congress also emerged victorious in one assembly segment under Maharajganj LS seat. The rest of the seats went to the NDA, 43 to the BJP and nine to its allies.

The battle of Purvanchal was not an easy one for the BJP in the 2019 LS elections either. Of the total 16 seats that the BJP-led NDA lost in UP in 2019, seven were in Purvanchal alone, five of them being in the sixth phase. The BJP won the Machhlishahr seat by a very thin margin of just a few hundred votes.

The seats that the NDA could not win in 2019 LS polls in Purvanchal were Azamgarh, Ambedkar Nagar, Shravasti, Lalganj, Jaunpur, Ghosi and Ghazipur. While the SP won Azamgarh, its then alliance partner BSP captured the rest of the six seats.

The evolving alliances further complicate the electoral calculus. In 2019, the BSP was aligned with the Opposition, whereas in 2022, a rainbow coalition led by prominent OBC leaders, including OP Rajbhar, Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan bolstered the SP’s presence.

This time, the BSP is not part of any alliance while all the OBC leaders, barring Swami Prasad Maurya, have returned to the NDA fold. The BJP will rely heavily on these OBC leaders, including the Apana Dal (S) chief Anupriya Patel, for maximising seats in the remaining last two phases in Purvanchal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath remain influential factors, commanding considerable support in the region. The presence of these two tallest leaders in the region may work to the advantage of the BJP that is leaving no stone unturned to win the battle of Purvanchal by trying to retain all the seats it won in 2019 and also win the seven seats it lost.

In contrast, the SP is banking on its ‘PDA’ formula to bolster its prospects, leveraging a strategic alliance strategy to galvanise support among other backward classes, Dalits and minorities expecting that the old Yadav-Muslim support will work as an add-on. The party sought to apply this formula to the distribution of tickets in most cases.

With the final phases of voting approaching, all eyes are on Purvanchal where all political parties, including BJP’s allies like Apna Dal (S), Nishad Party and the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), have high stakes and hence pulled out all the stops to win the race to Delhi.

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