Yogi’s Gorakhpur, the Modi factor, NDA allies, and OBCs: Phase 7 of the Lok Sabha Election Will Be the Most Challenging for UP

The most significant part of the Lok Sabha elections is expected to take place in Uttar Pradesh during the seventh and final phase, where 13 important seats are up for grabs, including Varanasi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is running.

Political analysts predicted that Apna Dal (S), an ally of the NDA, and other powerful OBC leaders would be put to the test in the seventh phase, which starts on June 1 and nominations are due on Tuesday, April 7. Gorakhpur, the home base of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, will be included in the seventh phase, which increases the significance of this phase for Uttar Pradesh and intensifies the election contest.

Political analyst Shashikant Pandey from Dr Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow stated, “Out of all the seven phases, I believe the last phase will be the most interesting of all as the poll battle will be in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi as well as UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s home turf Gorakhpur; other constituencies with recently inducted OBC leaders and BJP allies, including Apna Dal (S),”

Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon (SC), Ghosi, Salempur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, and Robertsganj (SC) are the thirteen constituencies in the seventh phase.

“The battle for these seats was just as fierce in 2019 when the BJP squared off against ‘Mahagathbandhan,’ the grand coalition of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Rashtriya Lok Dal. But the Congress would have rather gone it alone. In contrast, the BJP and the INDIA bloc—which also includes the Congress and SP—will square off in 2024. The RLD is quite influential in a number of western UP seats; hence, the BSP decided to go it alone this time, according to Pandey.

The NDA won eleven of the thirteen seats in the last election. Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Bansgaon, Salempur, Ballia, Chandauli, and Varanasi were won by the BJP, while Robertsganj and Mirzapur were won by its ally Apna Dal (S). However, the party—headed by BJP ally and cabinet minister Anupriya Patel—has not yet announced candidates for these two seats. Ashish Patel, her spouse and a state cabinet member who oversees party activities, said they would soon provide a statement about Robertsganj and Mirzapaur.

For opposition figures like Swami Prasad Maurya in the area as well as OBC leaders and NDA supporters like Anupriya Patel, Om Prakash Rajbhar, Sanjay Nishad, and Dara Singh Chauhan, this period will be critical. The BJP’s task is to hold onto some seats while regaining the two it lost in 2019. In the meantime, the SP and Congress must overcome the difficulty of making an impression in this area.

Historically, Varanasi has been a BJP bastion. With six exceptions (the Congress won this seat in the 2004 general elections), Varanasi has always supported the saffron party since 1996. Prime Minister Modi won handily in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi, garnering 63% of the total vote, while Samajwadi Party candidate Shalini Yadav came in second with 18.4%.

The PM, running for office for the third time in a row in Varanasi, will take on state Congress president Ajay Rai. The history of the BJP shows how strong its position is in the area and how dangerous a threat it is to the opposition coalition.

Yogi Adityanath’s stronghold in Gorakhpur has also favored the BJP. From 1999 to 2009, the chief minister won the position four times in a row. Three times before him had occupied the seat on behalf of the Hindu Mahasabha, his guru Mahant Avaidyanath. However, when Adityanath was appointed chief minister, the BJP suffered a blow in 2017 when it lost the seat to the SP in a by-election.

With MLAs from the BJP representing each of the five assembly seats, the party is still powerful in Gorakhpur despite this setback. Actor Ravi Kishan, from Bhojpur, won the seat for the BJP in the 2019 elections, and he has been nominated again to run for the position. This demonstrates the BJP’s resolve to hold onto this esteemed seat and strengthen its standing in the area.

In addition, the impact of the Apna Dal (S) will be evaluated in the seventh phase. The party won Robertsganj and Mirzapur in the 2019 elections; since 2014, party leader Anupriya Patel has won Mirzapur three times. She is probably going to run in this for the third time, and Manish Tripathi of the BSP and Rajendtra S. Bind of the SP will oppose her.

Patel has a hurdle in Mirzapur because of its historical tendency to not re-elect MPs to the Lok Sabha for a third term in a row. Her quest for a hat-trick highlights the importance of this election contest, and her candidacy stands for the party’s ongoing influence and presence in the area.

The presence of opposition parties highlights Mirzapur’s varied political terrain, but the next election will ascertain if Patel can buck historical precedent and keep her grasp on the seat. However, SC and ST voters predominate in Robertsganj; the Apna Dal has not yet announced a candidate in this area.

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