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In battle of Kushwahas, BSP state chief takes on BJP’s sitting MP

Salempur shocked everyone in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by choosing the BJP, the party’s first win from this constituency, as a Modi wave blew away most citadels of the opposition. 2019, however, seems a different story.

BSP supremo Mayawati has sent state party chief RS Kushwaha to contest against the BJP’s sitting MP, Ravinder Kushwaha, the son of four-time MP, HKP Kushwaha.

Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have also added Salempur as a venue for their May 14 joint rally, keen to reclaim a bastion that has alternated between the SP and BSP since 1999.

In his speeches, BSP’s Kushwaha never misses pointing out how BJP’s Ravinder has “deserted the socialist cause” as his father had twice won on a Janata Dal ticket and twice on SP’s.

“Abki Baar 7 Lakh Paar (We will cross 7 lakh votes this time),” says the BSP state chief – an ambitious target, as 8.5 lakh votes were cast in 2014 with BJP’s Ravinder Kushwaha bagging 3.92 lakh votes.

The seat, with many Kushwaha and Rajbhar voters, has invariably thrown up a winner from one of the two communities.

“Yahan to BJP kabhi nahi jeeti, pata nahin pichlibaar kaise jeet gayi (BJP never won here, god knows how they won the last time),” said a group of villagers in Nayagaon.

The Congress also seems to be hurting BJP’s cause here as it has put up a Brahmin candidate, former Varanasi MP RK Mishra. BJP could end up losing some upper-caste votes to him. Congress has also sent in Raj Babbar and PL Punia to campaign here, hoping to better its 2009 second-finish this time.

Candidates from the parties of Shivpal Yadav and Om Prakash Rajbhar have also thrown their hat into the ring, complicating equations.
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