With the political scenario in Uttar Pradesh (UP) heating up ahead of the assembly election next year, the battle for the Purvanchal seats has intensified. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stays confident of clinching the majority, the Samajwadi Party (SP) is also trying to re-establish its strong hold by poaching sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) and other senior leaders from the BJP and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In a major setback for the BJP, prominent Brahmin leaders including Hari Shankar Tiwari’s sons – Vinay Shankar Tiwari, a BSP MLA from the Chillupar seat of Gorakhpur, and Kushal Tiwari, a former MP from Sant Kabir Nagar Kushal Tiwari – switched to the SP on Sunday, in the presence of party leader Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow.
Purvanchal seats have always been key for the politically sensitive UP elections, which is why the BJP and SP have both geared up their campaigns in the area. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have organised maximum number of rallies in Purvanchal along with launching several development projects in the region. Likewise, Akhilesh Yadav-led SP has been strengthening its campaign by poaching big political leaders like Mukhtar Ansari and Hari Shankar Tiwari’s family members in the region. The SP has also allied with smaller parties like the Om Prakash Rajbhar-led Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, which has a strong hold in some districts of the region.
One of the major setbacks for the BJP in Purvanchal was its Khalilabad MLA in Sant Kabir Nagar, Digvijay Narayan Chaubey (also called Jai Chaubey), joining the SP. The Chaubey family has a strong hold in the field of education in the district. Former Legislative Council Chairman Ganesh Shankar Pandey, and the BSP candidate from Karnailganj – Santosh Tiwari – have also joined the SP. Reportedly, nine more BJP MLAs are in talk with the SP to switch parties.
Following his switch to SP, Vinay Shankar Tiwari said, “The BJP government has formed the government only for ruling the state. If anyone speaks against the government, he is sent to jail. Mutual brotherhood has ended in the entire state. Only people from a certain caste are being recruited in police stations, police outposts and other recruitments. There have been a lot of atrocities against people from Brahmin society.”
Listing recent “fake cases” in Gorakhpur, Tiwari said, “At present, ‘encounter’ has become the ‘policy’ of the government. The government forcibly jailed principal of BRD Medical College and Dr Kafeel Khan was jailed in a fake case. A young man named Ankur Shukla was murdered in Gorakhpur.” He added, “This government has only inaugurated the schemes of the previous government. There is no work being done other than the division of society. Our district Gorakhpur is a flood-prone area, but no budget has been allotted. This government has not done any development.”
Welcoming the leaders joining the SP, party head Akhilesh Yadav said, “I welcome all the people who have joined Samajwadi Party today. I am happy that such a big and influential family has come with us and now there is no competition for the Samajwadi Party anywhere. I also welcome Payal who comes from the transgender community and we also appoint him as Chief of SP Kinnar (Transgender) Wing so that problems faced by people of the community could be solved.”
Further escalating the attack on the BJP, the former UP chief minister added, “Looking at the state of work being done based on caste and religion, it looks like this government has adopted the policy of ‘divide and rule’ of the Britishers. While the British ruled by dividing, the BJP is ruling by spreading fear and atrocities. However, the people have now understood this, and the people in 2022 elections will teach them a lesson.”
The latest poll – the ABP News-CVoter Battle for the States Tracker – suggests that the BJP will return in power in Uttar Pradesh, however, with a significant decline in the number of seats. According to the survey, it is expected to bag 40.7 percent of the votes in comparison to the 2017 number of 41.4 percent. It also depicts that the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP is gaining ground and is expected to secure a 31.1 percent vote share – a significant rise from its vote share of 23.6 percent in 2017. The Congress, under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is expected to see a rise of 2.7 percent in vote share from 2017. Mayawati’s BSP might slide to about 15.1 percent from 22.2 percent.
Amidst the political turmoil, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has announced that it won’t support any party in the upcoming elections and will “not become a party to politics”. BKU’s national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, on Sunday, made the announcement a day after the farmers ended their year-long agitation against the farm laws. Tikait has mentioned earlier that he has no political aspirations, and that the farmers are regular voters. Stating that the farmers’ protest has unified the Hindus and Muslims in UP, Tikait noted that “those who used to benefit from the divide” will be disappointed as the “manufactured divide” is now over.