VARANASI: You know how important a region is to a political party when its prominent leaders clear all their schedules to spend time with the electorate of that region, especially close to the elections. In Uttar Pradesh (UP), Purvanchal appears to be that region for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Purvanchal region has stood behind the saffron party since 2014.
On December 23, PM Modi visited Varanasi, yet once again, to lay the foundation stone for 22 developmental projects in Varanasi worth Rs 870 Crore. Among the 22 projects, the PM also laid the foundation stone for Banas Dairy Sankul at the UP State Authority Industrial Food Park. And true to his style, he made full use of the stage to take a dig at the opposition “The previous governments completely ignored the Dairy sector,” he announced, while lauding the Yogi government for its good governance in the state. “UP is flourishing under CM Yogi Adityanath,” he stated.
With Thursday’s Varanasi visit PM Modi marks his 7th straight visit in 34 days to Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, Modi visited Prayagraj on December 21 to launch the Mukhya Mantri Kanya Sumangala Scheme aimed to empower women. On December 18, he laid the foundation stone for Ganga Expressway at Shahjahanpur. On December 12, PM launched the Kashi-Vishwanath Corridor in Varanasi. This state-of-the-art infrastructure surrounding the historic Kashi Vishwanath Temple near the iconic Dashashwamedh Ghat is expected to boost tourism in the ancient city. On December 11, PM launched the Saryu Canal National Project in Balrampur which will provide assured water for irrigation to over 14 lakh hectares of land and benefit about 29 lakh farmers. On December 7, among three other major projects launched in Gorakhpur, PM Modi launched the Gorakhpur Fertilizer Plant. This plant was shut for more than 30 years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 25, laid the foundation stone of the Noida International airport at Jewar in Gautam Buddh Nagar. On November 19, PM went to Jhansi to lay the foundation stone for Bharat Dynamics plant. On November 16, PM Modi inaugurated the 341km long Purvanchal Expressway in Sultanpur.
“Purvanchal has always been an important region for BJP. In the last assembly elections in 2017, BJP won 315 seats, landing itself the biggest win in the history of UP politics. In the 2019 elections the seat share dropped to only 274 segments. So the party has all the reasons to appease the people here,” says Kaushal Kishor Mishra, Political Science Professor, BHU.
This election, it appears, is going to be a tough fight. “Apart from the alliances that seem to be emerging in the state, one must keep anti-incumbency in mind. And this could well become a major factor for the voters,” he adds.
While the trending surveys put the BJP in the forefront, poll shastris believe the party cannot go lax on keeping its voter-base intact. Interestingly, those watching the state closely note that the upcoming elections are not about “Sadak, Bijli, pani” as they have been in the past. The fight this time is about “spiritual” development in the state, but one that translates into socio-cultural one. None of the parties they contend seem to have caught the gist of what really lies in the heart of a UP voter.
As for the other parties, the SP is also trying its best to regain the lost power in Uttar Pradesh, having forged pre-poll alliances with the RLD, Apna Dal, Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) and Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party. Clearly, this is only a warm up to the elections ahead; the real drama is going to be an interesting one to watch.