Balrampur (UP), Mar 2 (PTI) In this Uttar Pradesh district, which sent former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Parliament for the first time, the BJP appears to be facing a tough task as it tries to repeat its clean sweep on all four assembly seats.
Vajpayee was elected for the first time as a Member of Parliament in 1957 from the Balrampur constituency, which has four assembly constituencies of Balrampur, Gaisri, Utraula and Tulsipur — all represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at present.
All the seats of Balrampur will go to the polls in the sixth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election on March 3.
The district along the India-Nepal border has a link to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as well.
Devipatan temple of Pateshwari Devi temple is associated with Goraksh Peeth, headed by the chief minister as Goraksh Peeth Adishwar (head).
In 2007, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the BJP had won two seats each in Balrampur, while in 2012, the Samajwadi Party (SP) had won all the four seats. In 2017, the BJP had bagged all the assembly segments here.
“This situation is different this time. It’s unlikely that the BJP will retain all the four seats. On most of the seats, a direct contest appears between the BJP and the SP though BSP and Congress candidates are also in the fray,” said Ansar Ahmad Khan, Manager of HRA Inter college in Utraula.
The issues in the district, like other districts, are development, stray cattle menace, payment of sugarcane dues, but apart from these caste and religious factors are also there, he said.
In Balrampur, a reserved seat, sitting MLA Palturam (BJP) who is also a minister of state, is being challenged by SP’s Jagram Paswan while Congress’s Babita Maurya is also in the fray.
The seat has over 4.14 lakh voters including eight per cent of them belonging to the general category, 38 per cent OBC, 21 per SC/ST and 23 per cent Muslims.
Tulsipur seat also has maximum 35 per cent OBC, 23 per SC and 22 per cent Muslims besides others.
Zeba Rizwan, daughter of former MP Rizwan Zaheer, is contesting as an independent candidate from Tulsipur.
Both Zaheer and his daughter are presently in jail in a murder case. After the denial of SP ticket, Zeba is in the fray and her supporters said she is getting good support.
While the BJP has once again fielded Kailash Nath Shukla, the SP has given ticket to two-time MLA Abdul Mahsood Khan.
“It could be advantage BJP as Zeba dents SP’s Muslim vote bank. However, OBC votes will be decisive,” says Shamshad Khan, a local.
In Gaisri seat, sitting MLA and former Lucknow University Students’ Union president Shailesh Kumar Singh ‘Shailu’ is getting a tough challenge from SP’s Shiv Pratap Yadav.
In 2017, Shailu managed to win the seat from Yadav by a margin of 2,303 votes. Both Congress and BSP has fielded Muslim candidates on the seat.
Utraula seat has a maximum of 34 per cent OBC voters and 25 per cent Muslims besides others.
While the BJP has repeated Ram Pratap Verma alias Shahikhant, the SP has given chance to Hasib Khan. The Congress has given ticket to Dhirendra Pratap Singh alias Dhiru.
Raghvendra Pratap Shrivastava of Aryanagar here said he will be voting for the one who can take up local issues irrespective of caste and other factors.
He, however, accepts that as the election comes near, all issues go on the backburner and people get swayed by politicians’ statements.
Aizaz Malik of Subhash Nagar says the people here are clear on whom to vote and “this time the Muslims are united against a party as it even did not consider them as true citizens”.
In his initial Jana Sangh days, Vajpayee lived in Ramuapar Khurd village in Utraula tehsil of Balrampur. He contested three parliamentary elections from Balrampur winning in 1957 and 1967 as a nominee of Jana Sangh, considered to be the precursor of the BJP. He had, however, lost from here in 1962.
His village is part of Utraula assembly seat.
While inaugurating the Saryu Canal National Project in Balrampur in mid-December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had fondly mentioned the place being associated with Vajpayee ji. PTI ABN SNS CK
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Source: The Print