PM Modi’s Varanasi among 13 Lok Sabha constituencies to vote in 7th phase in UP
The BJP is facing a tough fight in the 13 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh which will go to polls in the seventh and last phase of the general elections on May 19.
By Sunday, Uttar Pradesh will have voted in all the seven phases of the mammoth general elections which began with the first phase of polling more than a month ago on April 11.
All the 13 constituencies going to polls in the last phase in UP are in the eastern region of the state. In 2014, the BJP and allies had won all these seats -- Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur and Robertsganj.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi constituency looks largely predictable for the BJP, the saffron party is on shaky ground in the other constituencies against the SP-BSP alliance stitched by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. Under the seat sharing arrangement, the SP is contesting eight seats and BSP five in the last phase.
It will largely be a straight fight between the BJP and the SP-BSP alliance on ten seats while two - Kushinagar and Deoria - are in for a triangular contest with the Congress also as a major player. Congress with its ally is contesting 12 seats.
Prime Minister Modi is the biggest heavyweight in the fray. Among other major contestants are BJP’s UP unit president Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union ministers Manoj Sinha (BJP) and Anupriya Patel (Apna Dal), and RPN Singh of the Congress.
Bhojpuri actor and BJP’s Gorakhpur candidate Ravi Kishan and independent candidate Atiq Ahmed in Varanasi are interesting candidates to watch.
In Gorakhpur, more than BJP’s candidate Ravi Kishan, it is the prestige of the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath which is at the stake. The seat had been Yogi’s impregnable citadel till the 2018 bypolls when the SP-BSP alliance breached it. Ravi Kishan is Yogi’s choice to win the seat back. The SP has fielded a Nishad community member, Ram Bhual Nishad with an eye on the about two lakh Nishad votes along with the backwards, Dalits, Muslim votes. The battle is expected to be fierce.
In Kushinagar, Congress’ 2009 winner RPN Singh is attempting to regain the seat from BJP but the SP-BSP alliance candidate too is in the fight.
The BJP, in Deoria dropped Kalaraj Mishra who won it by a huge margin in 2014. Instead, Ramapati Ram Tripathi is the new candidate. The runner up in 2014, BSP’s Niyaz Ahmed is now the Congress candidate for the seat. BSP has fielded Binod Kumar Jaiswal as the alliance candidate in the triangular contest.
In Ballia, the BJP gave the ticket to Virendra Singh to contest the seat that it won in 2014. Virendra is in a straight fight with the alliance candidate Sanathan Pandey of the Samajwadi Party. The Congress has not fielded a candidate here. The SP did not give the ticket to Neeraj Shekhar, the party’s Rajya Sabha member and the son of late Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar who could not retain the seat in 2014. Chandra Shakher won the seat eight times and Neeraj Shekhar won it twice.
In Ghazipur the sitting BJP MP and union minister Manoj Sinha is in a straight and tough contest with Afzal Ansari of the BSP. Afzal Ansari is the brother of the mafia boss and politician, Mukhtar Ansari. The Ansari brothers have an influence in the area and Afzal also has goodwill and the combined strength of SP and BSP have further raised his stock. The combined vote share of SP and BSP in 2014 was a whopping 20% higher than Manoj Sinha’s 31%.
In Chanduali the BJP state president and sitting MP on the seat, Mahendra Nath Pandey is contesting to retain the seat and his prestige as the state president of the party. But the contest is tough against Sanjay Chauhan of the SP. The combined vote share of SP and BSP was higher in 2014 polls than Pandey’s.
Prime Minister Modi who is contesting from only one seat this time is largely unchallenged in Varanasi. Till the penultimate day of filing nominations, there were speculation that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra might take on Modi here, but she did not. The constituency then hit the headlines because of the rejection of the SP candidate ex-BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav. Now, the original SP candidate Shalini Yadav is in the fray along with Congress’ Ajay Rai and criminal-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed. Atiq Ahmed is likely to cut into the Muslim votes of alliance and the Congress. Modi’s win looks predictable.
In Mirzapur, Union minister Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal is in a tough triangular contest with the gathbandhan and the Congress. The gathbandhan has fielded the Ram Charitra Nishad, the sitting BJP MP from Machlishahar seat who crossed over to the SP. The alliance has an advantage because of its combined vote share. But Lalitesh Pati Tripathi of the Congress might cut into the votes of both the BJP and the alliance.
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After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) landslide victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi on a thanksgiving visit on Monday.He marked his visit by offering prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple before heading to address party workers.Modi won the Varanasi parliamentary seat by a margin 4,79,505 votes, defeating his nearest rival Shalini Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.Follow highlights here: