Purvanchal Expressway sets pitch for poll battle in eastern UP

By, Lucknow
Nov 16, 2021 12:16 PM IST

Purvanchal Expressway passes through nine UP districts considered a strong base of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress

The 341-km long Purvanchal Expressway has set the pitch for electoral battle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition parties in eastern Uttar Pradesh during the 2022 assembly polls in the state.

Purvanchal Expressway passes through nine UP districts considered a strong base of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress (Sourced)
Purvanchal Expressway passes through nine UP districts considered a strong base of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress (Sourced)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the expressway connecting Lucknow with the districts of eastern UP in a programme in Sultanpur district on Tuesday (November 16). The expressway passes through nine districts—Lucknow, Barabanki, Amethi, Sultanpur, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Mau and Ghazipur—considered to be a strong base of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress.

The BJP plans to showcase the six-lane expressway constructed at an estimated cost of 22,497 crore in a big way to retain power in the state. Besides working to consolidate gains made in eastern UP in the 2017 assembly elections, it is projecting the expressway as a road that will transform the backward regions of eastern UP into a developed area.

To make the inauguration programme a grand event, the saffron brigade has mobilised its resources and cadre from across the eastern UP, also known as Purvanchal region, as it wishes to send a message to the voters about its commitment for the development of the region.

Terming Purvanchal Expressway a highway of development, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has said, “Eastern UP, which was neglected after independence, is now moving at a fast pace on the path of development. The expressway will become the backbone of the economy of the eastern UP. At eight spots on the expressway, the state government will develop industrial corridor to give fillip to industrial and business activities. The state government has issued a notification for the development of the industrial corridor.”

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, however, says the Purvanchal Expressway project was actually conceived by his government. “The SP government completed the Agra Expressway within 22 months whereas the BJP government is inaugurating an incomplete Purvanchal Expressway. The people are aware of the fact and they cannot be misled,” he claimed.

BSP chief Mayawati too had said, “The BJP is trying to take credit for the Purvanchal Expressway that is not correct. The plan of the expressway project to connect NOIDA in west UP with the districts of east UP was prepared when the BSP was in power. Due to the hurdles put by the then Congress government (at the Centre), the project could not be launched.”

A political observer SK Srivastava said, “Fearing that farmers’ agitation as well as Samajwadi Party- Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance will make a dent in its electoral fortunes in west Uttar Pradesh in the 2022 assembly election, the BJP has set its eyes on the eastern UP to retain power. The battle for the eastern UP will be decisive in deciding the fate of the political parties in the upcoming assembly election could be gauged from the fact that out of the 403 assembly seats in the state, 160 are in this region.”

In the 2017 UP assembly election, the BJP came to power with a landslide victory but the SP and the BSP were able to check the saffron brigade in their strongholds Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar respectively. The SP alliance this time with Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) that has support base in Ghazipur, Mau and Sultanpur districts has caused concern in the BJP camp. To counter the SBSP, union home minister Amit Shah on November 13 announced that a state university coming up in Azamgarh will be named after king Suheldev, Srivastava said.

“The BJP is leaving no stone unturned to bag maximum assembly seats in eastern UP and this could be gauged from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a slew of development projects in eastern UP, including inauguration of the international airport at Kushinagar, a medical college at Siddharthnagar, development projects in his constituency Varanasi, within a month. He is likely to inaugurate an AIIMS and a fertiliser factory in Gorakhpur and the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project in Varanasi this month,” Srivastava said.


    Rajesh Kumar Singh is a special correspondent at HT Lucknow. He covers State Home Department, State Police, Central police agencies,BSP, Health Department, UP Chief Electoral Officer, Irrigation Department, Mining and, Lokayukta.

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