The name Phulpur going to polls on Sunday May 12 this year draws an instant connect with country’s first prime minister, late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, along with the first fertilizer plant in the region set up with Russian collaboration and not to mention the first poultry farm of the district which brought broiler chicken on the plate of food lovers of the city.
Politically speaking it is one of the oldest and robust constituency of the region in the backdrop of the fact that it has elected stalwarts like Nehru in 1952, 57, 62, Vijaylaxmi Pandit in 64 and 67. It has also chosen prominent socialist leaders like Janeshwar Mishra, also known as Chotey Lohia, and country’s fifth prime minister VP Singh in 1971.
However post 2004 there was a paradigm shift in the mind of voters who surprisingly chose leaders like Atiq Ahmad on SP ticket in 2004 and Kapil Muni Karvariya on BSP ticket in 2009, both of whom were considered strongmen by all standards.
In the Modi wave of 2014, UP deputy chief minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya won the seat votes trouncing his Samajwadi Party (SP) rival by a mammoth margin of 3 lakh votes. How heavily the scales were tilted in favour of the BJP candidate can be gauged from the fact that Maurya secured 52.43 percent votes while SP and BSP got 20.33 and 17.05 per cent votes respectively.
But the constituency known for springing surprises handed a major jolt to the ruling BJP in the 2018 by- election when the combined candidate of SP and BSP Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel sent the BJP candidate Kaushlendra Patel packing, handing him defeat by a margin of around 60,000 votes. This was the time when the saffron party had to taste defeat in Gorakhpur the constituency of state chief minister, Yogi Adityanath also.
The total number of voters in Phulpur seat this time is around 19.66 lakh divided in 5 assembly seats of city North 4.13 lakh, City West 4.18 lakh, Soraon 3.65 lakh, Phulpur 3.80 lakh and Phaphamau 3.56 lakh. This time around the fight is between the BJP and Mahagathbandhan both of whom are working overtime to ensure the victory of their respective candidates. The Congress is also trying to make it’s lost ground and remain in relevance.
The BJP has fielded former zila panchayat chairperson, Keshri Devi Patel who was earlier associated with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Her candidature has been guided by the fact that the party wants to grab a major chunk of Patel votes in the area. The community has a sizeable number in virtually all the three rural assembly seats including Soraon, Phulpur and Phaphamau and Keshri Devi has considerable hold on Patel votes, opine political pundits.
On the other hand, the Mahagathbandhan has pitted Pandhari Yadav who was once the district president of Samajwadi Party(SP) to take on the BJP. The coalition apart from eyeing the Yadav votes also hopes to garner Dalit and Muslim votes in it’s favour. The SP and BSP have fully realised the fact that Dalit votes would automatically go in their favour while the Muslims may also follow suit given the absence of a Muslim candidate. Last time around Atiq Ahmad who had contested as an independent candidate in 2018 bye election had eaten into the Mahagathbandhan Muslim vote bank.
But the BJP this time is hopeful that their candidate would romp home victorious given the pro poor policies of the central government in the form of Ujjawala scheme, PM housing scheme, toilets for poor and sops for farmers said party leader and deputy mayor, Ratan Dixit.
Stating that the Mahagathbandhan is on a very firm footing, party leader, Awadhesh Yadav said, “If the vote transfer of both the parties goes as per our calculation in both the seats, our victory is a foregone conclusion.
The Congress party this time has found itself in a peculiar situation on account of the fact that it had announced support for the candidate fielded by Apna Dal breakaway faction led by Krishna Patel, mother of union minister Anupriya Patel. But some technical objections raised by the election commission has forced the Apna Dal candidate, Pankaj Niranjan to contest on Congress symbol, said senior Congress leader, Abhay Awasthi.
He added that the boat yatra undertaken by party general secretary and East UP incharge, Priyanka Gandhi has immensely boosted the prospects of the party and by 2022 we will become a force to reckon with.
But on the contrary, the urban assembly segment of city North and West are considered strongholds of saffron party which was ahead of it’s opponents in both the assembly constituencies in 2014 and 2018.
Moreover the city North assembly constituency is also considered the intellectual hub of the city as it houses also major educational institutions including the Allahabad central university and affiliated colleges along with government establishments.
Talking to NH, a university teacher, Prof Deepa Punetha, feels that “Track record of the candidate and his party should be foremost in the mind of voters because we want someone who can voice our problems and demand at requisite forums. He should be educated and sensible enough to understand the need of his voters”.