Varanasi, the seat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will go to polls along with 12 other parliamentary seats on May 19, the last phase of the ongoing general elections. The state voted in all the seven phases of the month-long polls.
All 13 constituencies lie in the eastern region of the state. In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party and allies had won all these seats, including Gorakhpur, the home turf of UP CM Yogi Adityanath. Varanasi looks largely predictable, but BJP cannot be sure of repeating its 2014 performance in the region.
The alliance between Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party stitched together by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati poses a formidable challenge to it. It will be a straight fight between the BJP and the gathbandhan on 10 seats, while in two — Kushinagar and Deoria — Congress’s candidates make it a triangular contest. Congress and its allies will not contest in Ballia. Priyanka Gandhi was made in-charge of east UP, marking her formal foray into politics.
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Other heavyweights in the fray include BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union minister Manoj Sinha, Union minister Anupriya Patel (of ally Apna Dal), and Congress’s RPN Singh. Gorakhpur, where BJP has fielded Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan, will be a prestige battle for Adityanath. The seat had been his stronghold, but in the 2018 bypoll, the gathbandhan’s Praveen Nishad had won it. This time around, SP has fielded Ram Bhual Nishad with an eye on the about 200,000 Nishad votes along with the Other Backward Caste, Dalit, and Muslim votes.
In Kushinagar, Congress’s 2009 winner RPN Singh will want to win back the seat from BJP, but faces a tough challenge from the gathbandhan candidate Nathuni Prasad Kushwaha of SP.
In Deoria, the BJP did not field sitting MP Kalraj Mishra, but Ramapati Ram Tripathi. Niyaz Ahmed is the Congress candidate here. BSP has fielded Binod Kumar Jaiswal. In Ghazipur, sitting BJP MP and Union minister Manoj Sinha will fight gathbandhan candidate Afzal Ansari (BSP), one half of the influential Ansari brothers, known as local strongmen.
Varanasi was also in the news because of the Election Commission’s rejection of SP’s candidate Tej Bahadur Yadav, a former Border Security Force soldier. Now, SP’s Shalini Yadav is in the fray along with Congress’s Ajay Rai and criminal-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed.
Benaras Hindu University (BHU) political science department’s Prof Kaushal Kishore Mishra said, “The seventh phase and the phase that preceded are very crucial. The two phases together covered the whole of eastern UP. The trend of the sixth phase will follow in the seventh phase. (…) the Party, which does well in the region, will emerge the victorious in UP and a play key role in politics at the Centre.”
May 19, 2019 06:37 IST
Lok Sabha elections 2019: PM Modi’s Varanasi among 13 east UP seats voting today; big test for SP-B… – Hindustan Times