Maharajganj: Uphill task for Cong’s young turk against six-time BJP MP - Hindustan Times
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Maharajganj: Uphill task for Cong’s young turk against six-time BJP MP

May 30, 2024 10:07 PM IST

In Maharajganj, Kurmi votes are crucial as six-time MP Pankaj Chaudhary faces Congress' Virendra Chaudhary. Pankaj's strong track record poses a challenge for Virendra.

MAHARAJGANJ: In the electoral battle in Maharajganj, where Kurmi votes hold the key, six-time MP and union minister of state for finance Pankaj Chaudhary is once again in the fray, taking on Congress candidate Virendra Chaudhary, who is a first-time MLA from Pharenda.

Anand Nagar junction connects the district with major cities, but the headquarters does not have a railway station. (Sourced)
Anand Nagar junction connects the district with major cities, but the headquarters does not have a railway station. (Sourced)

Virendra, who has a stronghold in his constituency, got the ticket after Congress dropped its 2019 candidate and national spokesperson Supriya Shrinet following her alleged remarks on BJP candidate from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut. Virendra faces an uphill task as he is pitted against a candidate who secured more votes than Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi in the 2019 elections.

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Pankaj Chaudhary started his political career in 1989 with the Gorakhpur Municipal Corporation elections. He then went on to win the Maharajganj Lok Sabha seat consecutively in 1991, 1996, and 1998. After a break in 1999, he again became an MP in 2004. In 2014 and 2019, he successfully defended his fortress. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he received over 7,26,349 votes, more than Narendra Modi’s 6,74,664 votes in Varanasi. However, Pankaj’s victory margin was 3,40,424 votes, while Modi registered a thumping win by 4,79,505 votes.

Congress candidate Virendra Chaudhary lost assembly elections in 2002 and 2007 on a BSP ticket and in 2012 and 2017 on a Congress ticket. However, he garnered 84,755 votes in the 2022 assembly polls, more than Congress’ Lok Sabha candidate Supriya Shrinate in 2019.

Virendra’s name cropped up again in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections alongside Supriya Shrinate and Amanmani Tripathi, a new induction into Congress. Amanmani is the son of Amarmani Tripathi, the former UP minister, four-time MLA, and strongman convicted for the murder of poetess Madhumita Shukla, who was killed on May 9, 2003, in Lucknow.

“The fight is interesting for two reasons. First, the two key contestants are banking on the same caste equation. Secondly, it’s a fight to break the continuation of BJP winning a seat that was a Congress stronghold in the past,” said Ram Pyare, a local.

Maharajganj goes to poll on June 1. The district came into existence in October 1989 and is situated on the Indo-Nepal border. Its boundaries touch Nepal in the north, Gorakhpur district in the south, Padrauna district in the east, and Siddharth Nagar and Sant Kabir Nagar districts in the west. There are 19,94,793 voters, including 10,51,133 males, 9,43,570 females, and 30 others.

A major election issue is railway connectivity. Anand Nagar junction connects the district with major cities, but the headquarters does not have a railway station. As a result, people from the main city have to travel about 30 km to catch a train. Consequently, the majority prefer buses or their own personal vehicles.

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