In UP Lok Sabha by-elections, big players bank on booth management
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In UP Lok Sabha by-elections, big players bank on booth management

While the Samajwadi Party is hoping that BSP’s Dalit support base will transfer into votes for its OBC candidates in the two bypolls, the BJP strategists have got busy playing on the unnatural tie-up of the Yadav-Dalit voters at the booth level

lucknow Updated: Mar 11, 2018 14:39 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BSP,BJP,Samajwadi Party
Around 2141 polling booths have been set up at 970 polling centres in Gorakhpur. In Phulpur, 10,775 polling personnel have been deployed.(HT Photo)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists have put in place a multi-pronged booth-level strategy to defeat the Dalit-OBC-Muslim caste matrix that the chief opposition party, the Samajwadi Party, is banking on in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls to be held on Sunday.

While the Samajwadi Party is hoping that BSP’s Dalit support base will transfer into votes for its OBC candidates in the two bypolls, the BJP strategists have got busy playing on the ‘bemail gathjod (unnatural tie-up)’ of the Yadav-Dalit voters at the booth level.

Both chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya personally checked party’s booth management, where the cadres were reportedly telling BSP activists about the 1993 guest house incident when party chief Mayawati was targeted by the Mulayam Singh Yadav led SP and rescued by the BJP.

State BSP chief Ram Achal Rajbhar laughed at the BJP ploy. “It took them so many years to remember the guest house incident,” Rajbhar said, refuting the ‘BJP propaganda’ of confusion among BSP cadres.

“There is no confusion. Our booth management is in place. There will be vote transfer (to SP). It’s not a cakewalk anymore for BJP and the party knows it,” Rajbhar said.

Rajbhar dismissed the BJP claim of confusion among the voters of the two parties on the ground.

“Yeh up-chunav BJP ko 2019 main ‘palatne’ ka karan banega (these by-polls will set the trend for the toppling of the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” he said adding the BJP’s ‘chalo paltai (let’s change)’ slogan in Tripura will play out differently in UP where the saffron brigade will bite the dust.

But the BJP leadership maintained that at the ground level the Yadav-Dalit voters, brought up on mutual rivalry against each other, were yet to assimilate the recent bonhomie among the two arch rivals.

The bypolls were required as Adityanath quit his traditional Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat while Maurya vacated the OBC dominated Phulpur to meet the constitutional requirement of becoming members of the state legislature.

“There is confusion in opposition ranks. The dalit base of BSP and the OBC one of the SP was largely demolished in the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 UP elections as caste identities merged in the Modi wave. People have seen through their desperation and that’s why we are confident the unnatural nature of the alliance will be self defeating for them,” Maurya said.

The BJP has raised the slogan ‘100 main 60 hamara, baki main hain batwara (We are getting 60 per cent of the vote, the rest lies divided),” says BJP leader Navin Srivastava.

BJP spokesman Shalabh Mani Tripathi said the people of Gorakhpur and Phulpur would give a return gift to BJP for making Yogi the chief minister and Maurya the deputy CM.

But SP leaders claimed that despite its phenomenal wins in UP since 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2017 assembly polls, the BJP was a touch nervous going into the by-polls.

“This is the first time in more than two decades that a representative of Gorakhnath Mutt is not a BJP candidate. That’s why the Nishads, the OBC community that lives by the river and had traditionally supported Adityanath, are backing us in Gorakhpur and Phulpur. We are confident anyway,” SP leader Manoj Pandey said.

The BJP leaders are also happy that the Congress going solo will divide the opposition vote.

POLL DYNAMICS

Ten assembly segments make up the Lok Sabha constituencies of Gorakhpur and Phulpur. The BJP had won nine of them in 2017 UP polls. “But the combined vote share of the SP, BSP and the Congress would have left the BJP with just one seat,” said Athar Siddiqui of the Centre of Objective Research and Development (CORD). Analysts like Siddiqui admit to the unpredictability of the SP-BSP association. But they say it, along with the Congress, capability of becoming a Bihar-type grand alliance that made the BJP taste rare defeat.

A BJP leader pointed out that even in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when BSP failed to open its account and SP could win just five seats, the SP and BSP had together polled 38.7% votes against BJP’s formidable 52% vote share. Three years later, despite the Modi wave holding on in UP and helping the party sweep the state after 15 years, the SP and the BSP together polled 44% of the votes.

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 14:39 IST