A test of caste dynamics and BJP dominance

  • | Saturday | 11th May, 2024

As the Lok Sabha elections progress into their fourth phase scheduled for May 13, the focus shifts to 13 crucial constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. This phase is poised to be a litmus test for caste influences and the enduring appeal of the Narendra Modi magic, presenting a formidable challenge for the Bharatiya Janata Party to maintain its stronghold on all 13 seats secured by it in the 2019 elections. While the initial phases primarily traversed through Jat and Yadav strongholds, the fourth phase presents a blend of both, with the BJP and the Samajwadi Party locked in a battle for dominance. The constituencies in this phase include Shahjahanpur (SC), Kheri, Dhaurahra, Sitapur, Hardoi (SC), Misrikh (SC), Unnao, Farrukhabad, Etawah (SC), Kannauj, Kanpur, Akbarpur and Bahraich (SC). Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Sitapur, Unnao, Etawah, and Bahraich boast significant Dalit voter populations. In the 2019 elections, riding on the Modi wave, the BJP swept all 13 seats going to polls in this phase, despite facing the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance. However, this election witnesses the BSP contesting independently, while the SP has entered into a seat-sharing agreement with its INDIA bloc partner Congress. The BJP faces the challenge of replicating its 2019 performance in this phase, while the SP aims to reclaim the prestigious Kannauj seat lost narrowly to the BJP in the previous election. Historically, the BSP has grappled to secure victories in several constituencies, including Shahjahanpur, Kheri, Hardoi, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, and Kanpur.   CONSTITUENCY HIGHLIGHTS SHAHJAHANPUR (SC): Shahjahanpur has witnessed a varied political landscape over the years. The BJP secured victories here in 1998, 2014 and 2019, while the Congress emerged triumphant twice in 1999 and 2004. The SP clinched this seat only once in 2009. In the last elections, BJPs Arun Kumar Sagar emerged victorious with 58.09 per cent of votes, defeating BSPs Amar Chand Jauhar, who was the joint candidate of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance. The BJP has repeated Sagar while SP has fielded Rajesh Kashyap. Daudram Verma is the BSP candidate. KHERI: Kheri has been a battleground for multiple parties. Since 1996, the BJP has won this seat four times, including consecutive victories in 2014 and 2019. On the other hand, the SP has emerged victorious thrice, with the Congress securing a win in 2009. In 2019, BJPs Ajay Mishra Teni retained his seat by securing 53.62 per cent of the votes, defeating SPs Purvi Verma. Despite controversy surrounding his sons involvement in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case of 2021, Teni remains the BJP candidate for the third time, challenged by SPs Utkarsh Verma. DHAURAHRA: Dhaurahra witnessed a competitive battle in the previous Lok Sabha election. BJPs Rekha Verma secured victory with 48.21 per cent of the votes, defeating BSPs alliance candidate Arshad Siddiqui. Rekha Verma continues as the BJPs candidate and faces SPs Anand Bhadouria and BSPs Shyam Kishore Awasthi. SITAPUR: In Sitapur, BJPs Rajesh Verma emerged victorious in 2019, securing 48.3 per cent of the votes. He defeated BSPs Nakul Dubey, with Congress securing a minor share of 9 per cent votes. Rajesh Verma continues as the BJP candidate, challenged by Rakesh Rathore of the Congress. HARDOI (SC): Hardoi saw a decisive victory of the BJP in 2019 when Jai Prakash Rawat secured 53.71 per cent of the votes, defeating SPs Shiv Prasad Verma. Both BJP and SP have fielded their previous candidates for the upcoming election. MISRIKH (SC): A lesser-known constituency, Misrikh saw BJPs Ashok Rawat emerging victorious in 2019, defeating BSPs Neelu Satyarthi. The BJP has repeated its sitting MP, who faces a challenge from SP candidate Manoj Kumar. UNNAO: Known as the Land of Pen and Sword, Unnao commands attention due to its significant Scheduled Caste population. In 2019, BJPs Swami Sakshi Ji Maharaj secured a landslide victory, defeating SPs Arun Shankar Shukla. The BJP has nominated Swami Sakshi Ji Maharaj once again, while the SP and the BSP have fielded Anu Tandon and Ashok K Pandey, respectively, highlighting the diversity of candidates in the electoral fray. FARRUKHABAD: Farrukhabad has been a battleground for various political parties. In 2019, BJPs Mukesh Rajput emerged victorious with 56.8 per cent of the votes, defeating BSPs Manoj Agrawal. The BJP has retained its sitting MP, while the SP has fielded Naval Kishore Kashyap and the BSP has introduced Kranti Pandey, adding complexity to the electoral dynamics. ETAWAH (SC): Etawah, historically an SP bastion, has witnessed changing political landscapes. In 2019, BJPs Ram Shankar Katheria secured victory, defeating SPs Kamlesh Kumar. The BJP has retained Katheria for the upcoming election, while the SP and BSP have introduced Jitendra Dohare and Ram Singh Baghel, respectively, reflecting the competitive nature of electoral politics. KANNAUJ: The electoral landscape of Kannauj underwent a significant transformation in the 2019 elections. BJPs Subrat Pathak dismantled the SPs fort by defeating the then sitting MP Dimple Yadav. The BJP has reiterated its support for Subrat Pathak, while the BSP has introduced a Muslim candidate, Imran Bin Zafar, adding a diverse dimension to the electoral contest. Akhilesh Yadav is the SP candidate. KANPUR: Kanpur remains a pivotal constituency in Uttar Pradesh politics. In 2019, BJPs Satyadev Pachauri secured victory, defeating Sriprakash Jaiswal of the Congress. In the upcoming election, both the BJP and Congress have fielded Brahmin candidates, namely Ramesh Awasthi and Alok Mishra, respectively, while the BSP has nominated Kuldeep Bhadauriya, signaling a keenly contested electoral battle. AKBARPUR: Once a stronghold of the BSP, Akbarpur has witnessed shifting political allegiances over the years. In 2019, BJPs Devendra Bhole emerged victorious, defeating BSP candidate Nisha Sachan. In the upcoming election, the BJP has retained its candidate, while the SP has introduced Raja Ram Pal. The BSP has named a Brahmin candidate, Rajesh Kumar Dwivedi, further diversifying the electoral landscape. BAHRAICH (SC): Bahraich has seen a mix of political fortunes over the years. In 2019, BJPs Akshaibar Lal secured victory from this seat, defeating SPs Shabbir Valmiki. The BJP has introduced Anand Gond as its candidate for the upcoming election, while the SP has fielded Ramesh Gautam. The BSP has fielded a professor of Lucknow University, Brijesh Kumar Sonkar, as its candidate.

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