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Congress candidates weaken SP-BSP, bring respite to faction-ridden BJP

The Congress candidates fielded in Sant Kabir Nagar and Deoria seem a prime reason why the BJP still seems in pole position on both these seats instead of the SP-BSP alliance.

, ET Bureau|
May 09, 2019, 08.23 AM IST
Is Congress creating a hurdle for SP-BSP alliance in Sant Kabir Nagar and Deoria?
SANT KABIR NAGAR/DEORIA: Priyanka Gandhi’s claim that the Congress is hurting only the BJP in seats in East Uttar Pradesh falls flat in seats such as Sant Kabir Nagar and Deoria which go to polls next in UP.

The Congress candidates fielded here, who were inducted into the party at the last minute, seem a prime reason why the BJP, despite troubles of its own, still seems in pole position on both these seats instead of the SP-BSP alliance.

The incident involving BJP MP from Sant Kabir Nagar, Sharad Tripathi, a Brahmin, beating up a fellow Thakur MLA with his shoe in March reverberates through both constituencies amidst the Brahmin-Thakur equations in UP. This is because while Tripathi’s ticket was cut for gross indiscipline that embarrassed his party, the MP’s father Ramapati Ram Tripathi was fielded as a balancing act from Deoria.

“Ramapati ji is well on his way to win an election for the first time,” BJP leaders in Deoria told ET.

Besides Brahmins rallying behind Ramapati in Deoria after another veteran, Kalraj Mishra, was not fielded again from here, it is the Congress which seems to be giving Ramapati an unintended fillip.

Its candidate Niyaz Ahmed is cutting into Muslim votes that the alliance candidate from BSP, BK Jaiswal, was hoping to get en-block to give Ramapati a tough time. Ahmed has a stronghold in Deoria and had finished second in 2014 on a BSP ticket, polling 2.3 lakh votes against BJP’s Kalraj Mishra. After BSP did not give him a ticket this time, Congress inducted him this March.

The story in Sant Kabir Nagar is a virtual repeat of Deoria. “The day Bhalchandra Yadav entered the fray from the Congress, which changed its existing candidate Parvez Khan for him, we got into pole position in Sant Kabir Nagar,” a senior state BJP leader told ET.

Yadav, a regional strongman, has been a two-time MP, who came third in 2014 on a SP ticket and shifted camp to Congress just last month after the seat fell in the BSP quota of the alliance. He claims the Yadavs and Muslims are rallying behind him rather than the alliance candidate, a Brahmin, Bhishma Shankar.

Shankar, a former MP from here, has beaten both Yadav and Sharad Tripathi from this seat before losing to Tripathi in 2014.

If BJP candidate Praveen Nishad, who won the Gorakhpur bypoll in 2018 on a Samajwadi Party ticket, wins from here, it may well be thanks to the Yadav-Shankar tussle that is ending up helping BJP’s cause.

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