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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Deoria seat witnessing straight fight between BJP and SP-BSP alliance

The general mood in the constituency indicates that it is witnessing a direct contest between the BJP and the SP-BSP alliance. BJP’s Ramapati Tripathi is pitted against SP-BSP alliance candidate Vinod Jaiswal.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 14, 2019 14:30 IST
Abdul Jadid
Abdul Jadid
Hindustan Times, Gorakhpur
lok sabha elections 2019,bjp,bsp-sp alliance
The Devraha Baba temple in Deoria, Uttar Pradesh. (HT Photo )

Located on the bank of the river Rapti, Deoria in Uttar Pradesh is also known as a place of historical and religious importance. It is often referred to as Devbhoomi or the land of Hindu deities by the locals.

The district is also known for freedom fighters like Ram Chandra, who along with four friends, was killed in police firing when he tried to hoist the Indian flag at the collectorate on August 14, 1942.

Prominent Hindu saint Devraha Baba, who is believed to have lived for over 200 years, performed sadhnas (spiritual practices) on his 15-feet-high bamboo platform along the riverbank. It is believed that Indira Gandhi, who was routed in the post-Emergency election in 1977, came back to power in 1980 after getting Devraha Baba’s blessings.

The Deoria Lok Sabha constituency votes in the seventh and final phase of Lok Sabha elections on May 19.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally in Deoria on Sunday, he mentioned the past glory of the constituency. He sought to connect himself to the city by referring to his decades-long relations with former union minister Kalraj Mishra who, as president of the Yuva Morcha, visited his village in Gujarat and gave him Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) pamphlets to distribute.

The general mood in the constituency indicates that it is witnessing a direct contest between the BJP and the SP-BSP alliance. Sitting MP and veteran BJP leader Kalraj Mishra has refused to contest the election, choosing to adhere to his party’s unwritten rule that keeps leaders above the age of 75 years out of the poll fray. Mishra has been replaced with former UP BJP president Ramapati Tripathi, the father of sitting Sant Kabirnagar MP Sharad Tripathi, who was denied the party ticket after the infamous shoe gate incident. Sharad Tripathi allegedly thrashed party’s Mehadwal MLA Rakesh Bhatnagar with a shoe at a meeting of the district planning committee in March.

Tripathi is up against SP-BSP alliance candidate Vinod Jaiswal, a Bihar-based liquor businessman whose father-in-law Gorakh Prasad represented the Deoria seat in 2009. The Congress has fielded Niyaz Ahmed, who unsuccessfully contested from Pathardeva as an Independent candidate after the Congress denied him ticket at the last moment in the 2012 assembly election. He later contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket but lost to Kalraj Mishra.

Also Read | Voters in UP’s Deoria have not chosen the same party twice

The caste equations indicate that Brahmins and other upper caste voters are backing the BJP while Muslims, Dalits, Yadavs and Nishads are uniting behind the SP-BSP alliance candidate.

“Like 2014, there is a Modi wave again. Based on his good work, we will win not just in Deoria, but on 74 UP seats. The alliance stands nowhere,” Tripathi said.

Alliance candidate Vinod Jaiswal also exuded confidence of his victory. “The alliance was formed to stop Modi from coming to power. It is in a strong position in the state, including Deoria,” he said.

Political analyst Manoj Singh says, “Deoria is among the seats of east UP where the changed political scenario has led to a direct fight between the BJP and alliance. Changing the candidate in Deoria, Gorakhpur and Santkabir Nagar is likely to hit the BJP’s prospects. Unlike 2014, the Modi wave is not in force to benefit the BJP. The Opposition seems to have the upper hand this time.”

However, a group of youth sipping tea at a stall at the busy Subhash Chowk of the city differs vociferously.

“Only Modi,” they say when asked who they would vote for. “No leader other than Modi is capable of running the country,” they say. About 15 kilometres away in Bhatni village, neighbours Ram Asrey Yadav and Ghulam Ali openly say they are supporting the gathbandhan. “Modiji did nothing except touring the world and befooling people by making false promises. It’s time to say goodbye to him,” says Ram Asrey, a farmer.

The constituency has witnessed farmers’ agitation over the closure of sugar mills in Deoria, Bhatni, Baitalpur and Gauri Bazar over the years.

Over 2,200 people lost their jobs following the closure of the mills while 1.5 lakh farmers were affected due to the move.

There are over 17 lakh voters in Deoria.

For complete coverage of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, click here

First Published: May 14, 2019 14:29 IST