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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Ambedkar Nagar braces for bipolar battle between BJP, BSP

Though 11 candidates are in the fray in Ambedkar Nagar, the constituency is witnessing a straight contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Mukut Bihari and Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ritesh Pandey.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: May 09, 2019 15:25 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Akbarpur (Ambedkar Nagar)
A mosque and a temple are located close to each other at Kashmiriya crossing in Tanda town of Ambedkar Nagar, presenting a symbol of communal harmony.
A mosque and a temple are located close to each other at Kashmiriya crossing in Tanda town of Ambedkar Nagar, presenting a symbol of communal harmony.(HT Photo )
         

Ram Ujagir, a native of Alepur village, is hopeful of the return of the ‘golden age’ in Ambedkar Nagar after the victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

“Addressing a public meeting on the Shivbaba ground on Sunday, ‘behanji’ (Mayawati) indicated that she will contest election from Ambedkar Nagar after BSP performs well in the Lok Sabha election. If she represents Ambedkar Nagar in the Lok Sabha, it will pave the way for development projects in the constituency,” he said.

Countering Ram Ujagir, Ram Babu Verma of Amwa village said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in his address at Maya Bazar on May 1, had said both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) used the name of Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia but did little for the empowerment of the weaker section and development of backward districts.

Though 11 candidates are in the fray in Ambedkar Nagar, the constituency is witnessing a straight contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Mukut Bihari and Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ritesh Pandey.

The BJP denied ticket to sitting MP Hari Om Pandey after a video of Pandey hitting out at the party leadership went viral on the social media.

The SP-BSP leadership is trying to win the support of the Brahmin community by highlighting the ire of Pandey. As a damage control measure, Pandey shared the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his May 1 rally.

BSP’s Ritesh Pandey, son of former MP Rakesh Pandey, is the sitting MLA from Jalalpur assembly seat in Ambedkar Nagar.

Besides the support of the Brahmin community, Pandey is relying on the core voter base of the BSP-SP alliance – Yadavs, Muslims and Dalits.

Though the BSP lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, it made a comeback in the 2017 assembly election by winning three out of five assembly seats of Ambedkar Nagar. The party hopes to win the seat this time.

BJP candidate Mukut Bihari, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, is trying to counter the outsider tag by highlighting development projects launched in the constituency under the BJP government.

According to political observer Madhusudan Pandey, 29% voters belong to the Scheduled Castes, 20% backwards, 16% Muslims, 32% upper caste and 3% others.

“The extremely backward community will play a decisive role in deciding the fate of the candidates,” he said.

Also Read | Lok Sabha elections 2019: Ambedkar Nagar constituency in UP was once a BSP bastion

DEVELOPMENT, CASTE KEY FACTORS

“When Mayawati became UP chief minister for the first time in 1995, she announced the formation of Ambedkar Nagar district. Soon, several development projects like construction of roads, bridges, establishment of medical college, engineering college, ITI, intermediate college and modern hospital were launched. In four terms of the BSP government, Ambedkar Nagar gained the status of a VIP district,” Ram Ujagir of Alepur said.

“However, after the SP and BJP governments came to power, the district lost recognition. Today, Ambedkar Nagar is a symbol of neglect and apathy. The BSP chief’s announcement that she will again contest election from the seat has filled BSP supporters with enthusiasm,” he added.

Shyam Kumar Shukla, a school teacher at Ambedkar Nagar Intermediate College, said: “Ambedkar Nagar is located adjacent to Ayodhya yet during the Ram temple movement, the BJP failed to win the seat. Riding on the Modi wave, the BJP grabbed Ambedkar Nagar seat in 2014. The BJP is again relying on Modi magic to retain the seat,”

Chhotey Lal Prajapati of Tanda town said the BJP hoped to get the support of Kurmis, Thakurs, Brahmins, Nishads, Kumhars, Dhobis and extremely backward castes that had been suppressed under the SP-BSP government.

Nand Kumar Yadav of Tanda said, “Along with caste, development will also be an important factor in the election. There is 24-hour power supply in the town famous for textile cottage industry. The construction of highway connecting the town with the district headquarters is in full swing.”

Mohammad Islam said Tanda was free from communal tension though Muslims were grappling with stray cattle menace.

A BSP supporter, Rajendra Rajbhar, said the party mobilised its resources to ensure the victory of its candidate.

Also Read | Can Mayawati become India’s first Dalit prime minister? | Opinion

First Published: May 09, 2019 15:25 IST

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