Samajwadi Party sees gains from Maya push, BJP from nationalism
The voters’ mood has changed a lot over the last few days after the joint rally of BSP supremo Mayawati and SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri on April 19.
|, ET Bureau
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2019, 07.40 PM IST
Of the ten seats in Western Uttar Pradesh that are going to the polls on April 23, the Samajwadi Party had won three during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. A day before voting, ET travelled through Mainpuri, Firozabad, Etah, Badaun and Sambhal, which have a strong Yadav and Muslim presence, to gauge the voter sentiment. The SP-BSP alliance is banking on the consolidation of Yadav, Muslim and Jatav votes to turn it into a winning combination.
The voters’ mood has changed a lot over the last few days after the joint rally of BSP supremo Mayawati and SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri on April 19. Meanwhile, the BJP is trying to consolidate voters on the issue of nationalism.
A strong Yadav family bastion, Mainpuri has sent Mulayam Singh Yadav to Parliament four times in the past and the veteran leader’s prospects look strong in Mainpuri. The joint rally of Mayawati and Mulayam has sent a strong signal to voters and they now seem to be united behind Mulayam Singh. “A section of party workers in nearby constituencies were miffed with Ram Gopal Yadav,” says Jantu Yadav, a young student from Karhal. “But as Netaji (Mulayam Singh) appealed to the voters that this is his last election, everyone will vote for him.”
The SC community too has come out in full support of Mulayam. “We follow what Behenji orders,” said Satish Gautam of Karhal. “Even if some people were unhappy, after Behenji’s appeal in Mainpuri, we are fully backing Mulayam Singh.” BJP candidate Prem Singh Shakya is banking on the Shakya, upper caste and MBC votes. However, his chances look bleak. “No top BJP leader has come to campaign in Mainpuri knowing well that it is difficult to defeat Mulayam,” said Naresh Shakya, a chemist shop owner in Saifai. “With BSP, Mulayam has become stronger.”
It’s a battle of the Yadavs in Firozabad. Mulayam’s brother and president of the newly-formed Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia), Shivpal Yadav is challenging his nephew Akshay Yadav, son of Ram Gopal Yadav. In the beginning, it looked like the division of Yadav and Muslim votes could benefit the BJP candidate, Chandresh Jadaun. But things have changed after the Mulayam-Mayawati rally.
Taking a dig at Shivpal, Mayawati appealed to voters not to divide votes and give it to the Gathbandhan. In the five assembly seats, SP has only one MLA –– Hariom Yadav –– and he is backing Shivpal. But this also hasn’t affected equations on the ground too much.
“BJP is helping Shivpal Yadav,” says Rahul Yadav (22) from Hazratpur village near Tundla in Firozabad. “BJP has given a weaker candidate to help Shivpal. But we will vote for the Gathbandhan.” Jaiveer Yadav (40) says that Mulayam’s word is final for the Yadavs in Firozabad. “Netaji has asked us to support Akshay Yadav and we will abide by that.”
With 21% Yadavs, 12% Dalits and 12% Muslims, SP seems to be ahead with around 55% vote share. Kaptan Sing Jatav of Hazratpur village claims that the Jatavs are solidly behind the “cycle” (symbol) this time. “In 2014, we voted for the BSP. Now, our leader has decided to forge an alliance with the SP and we have to follow her.” Firozabad looks to be a tough contest as Shivpal is trying to break a section of Muslim voters too. But Nadeem Khan of Nagla Chandrabhan says: “Everyone knows who is behind Shivpal. Let election day come closer, and Muslims will vote only for SP.”
This is a prestigious seat for the BJP as Rajveer Singh, son of Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh is contesting from here. Etah was won by Kalyan Singh in 2009 and, in 2014, his son Rajveer won the seat by a 2 lakh vote margin. But this time, Rajveer is facing a tough battle in Etah.
Etah has around 3.5 lakh Lodh Rajput voters who are backing Rajveer Singh, who belongs to their caste.
At the same time, it has 3.5 lakh Yadav voters and 1.7 lakh Jatav voters who seem to support SP candidate and former MP Devendra Singh Yadav. Yadav last won this seat in 2004. A sizeable Muslim population too is backing Yadav this time. There are also smaller castes within the MBCs and some of them are backing SP.
Farmer Ram Naresh Diwakar (38) from Nagla Kisi village in Etah voted for Modi in 2014. “But this time, all the four votes from my family will go to the SP as the BJP MP never visited us in the past five years. We are farmers and we have been destroyed by this government,” he says. BJP understands the strong SPBSP alliance and is focusing more on the Modi magic. On April 20, Modi addressed a rally in Etah in support of Rajveer Singh and attacked the Bua-Babua gathbandhan.
“This gathbandhan will break after May 23 as they have come together for survival,” he said. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath too addressed the rally and attacked Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav for this unholy alliance.
SP has been winning Badaun since 1996 and its current two-time MP Dharmendra Yadav is in the fray to protect this family bastion. BJP has fielded Sanghmitra Maurya, daughter of UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya from the seat. BJP is working hard to wrest this seat from the SP but the caste equation makes it a difficult battle. All eyes are on Congress candidate Salim Iqbal Sherwani, who has represented this seat in the past on the SP ticket. BJP hopes that Sherwani will get enough Muslim votes to make it easier for Maurya.
In February, PM Modi had addressed a rally in Badaun. On April 13, BSP leader Mayawati and SP leader Akhilesh Yadav has addressed a rally in Badaun to garner support for Dharmendra Yadav. Realising the division of votes among Muslims, Mayawati said she needs both Ali and Bajrang Bali for the victory of the grand alliance. Badaun has 4 lakh Yadav voters and almost an equal number of Muslims. It also has 1.75 lakh SC voters and together they can make a winning combination. “We are currently with Salim Sherwani,” says Mohd Yusuf, a lawyer in Badaun court. “But we will take a decision the night before election. Since Sherwani cannot win, we all could go with the SP. Dharmendra has also done good work here in Badaun.”
The BJP won the Sambhal seat by the lowest margin in UP in 2014. BJP’s Satyapal Singh Saini won this seat by only 5,000 votes against SP’s Shafiqur Rehma Barq. This time, the BJP has changed its candidate and has fielded Parmeshwar Lal Saini. There was a triangular contest in Sambhal in 2014 and BSP candidate Aqeelur Rehman Khan had got 2.5 lakh votes.
However, an SP-BSP alliance is posing a tough challenge to the BJP this time. Sambhal has been an old Yadav bastion and Mulayam Singh Yadav himself won from the seat twice. In 2004, his brother Ram Gopal Yadav won from the seat.
Much depends upon the consolidation of the Muslim and SC votes and the side which can garner their support is likely to win this seat.
Arun Singh Jatav of Prahladpur Patti says that he has always voted for BSP in the past. “Since the BSP has supported SP, I will vote for the cycle. I like Modi, but my vote will go to the cycle,” he says. Standing behind him is Rajinder Jatav of Islam Nagar and he too echoes what Arun says. “Yahan sab gathbandhan ka hi hai,” he says. However, Radha Krishna Gupta, a pan shop owner doesn’t agree with him. “Whether the party wins or loses, we will only vote for the BJP,” he claims. “There is no division among BJP voters here.” Muslims are largely supporting Barq, the SP candidate. There are other candidates too like Major Jagpal Singh from the Congress and Karan Singh Yadav from Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party. But the main fight is going to be between the BJP and SP.
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