Uttar Pradesh Poll Diary: Snippets from the last phases campaign

BJP nerves on Varanasi seats; Ansari brothers find going easy; farmers wait for results to pay dues; snippets from the hectic Uttar Pradesh assembly election campaign

PTI Photo
PTI Photo

Biswajeet Banerjee

BJP’s ‘Mahabharat’ in Varanasi

Union Ministers have swarmed Varanasi—the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—because there is a feeling in the Bharatiya Janata Party that if BJP fails to perform in this temple town, it would amount to a loss of face for the party. In its desperation, the party has pushed the panic button because the arithmetic appears to favour the Congress-SP alliance here.

BJP national president Amit Shah is camping in Varanasi while senior ministers are sweating it out in different nukkad sabhas. Chances are high of bumping into any of several union ministers including JP Nadda, Manoj Sinha, Smriti Irani, Narendra Singh Tomar, Kalraj Mishra, Anant Kumar, Mahendra Pandey and Anupriya Patel in and around Varanasi. Besides them, union power minister Piyush Goyal has been busy flying in and out of the city.

Dr Kaushal Kishore Mishra, Head of the department of Political Science at Benaras Hindu University was quoted saying that the PM’s prestige is at stake, should the BJP get a majority in UP but fails to win the region.

Ansaris having a free run

It seems BJP as well as SP has given a walkover to the Ansari family contesting the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections under the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). While nomination papers of BJP candidate Ashok Singh were rejected during the scrutiny from Mau seat, where BSP has fielded mafia don and sitting member Mukhtar Ansari, the SP-Congress alliance has fielded a weak candidate against Mukhtar's elder brother Sibgatullah Ansari in Mohammadabad seat.

Mukhtar is still in jail but his family members are campaigning for him in Mau. The Ansari family is contesting three assembly seats in Mau (Ghazipur) on BSP ticket after they were denied ticket by the SP. Mukhtar's son Abbas Ansari, is the new entrant in the fray from Ghosi seat. Polling is on February 4.

Loan waiver offer a trump card?

With political parties playing the loan waiver card to woo farmers, small and marginal farmers have refused to clear dues till the poll results are out. All political parties—be it Congress, SP, BSP or BJP—have promised a loan waiver if they come to power.

A senior bank official in Bank of Baroda said that bank employees are confronting hostile villagers who are not willing to clear their dues. “The report of February is quite dismal. The loan collection is falling far below the target. If I quantify it, the realisation is not even 40% of the average monthly repayment ” the official said.

Majority of the crop loans availed by farmers in UP are from the rural branches of nationalised banks through Kisan Credit Card—a scheme of the centre. “We are waiting for the outcome of (election) result. Prime Minister has promised waiver of loans in the first meeting of the BJP government. If that happens I will save some money,” a farmer Ram Naresh said. He had taken ₹50,000 loan from Gramin Bank of Baroda in Faizabad branch.

MSY’s no to campaigning

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has reportedly refused to go for electioneering in eastern Uttar Pradesh—the region where much is at stake for SP-Congress alliance. “There is a firm ‘no’ from 5, Vikramaditya Marg. Mulayam does not want to take part in electioneering anymore,” a close confidante of Mulayam Singh Yadav told this reporter.

On February 23 Mulayam was to address a rally in favour of tainted minister Gayatri Prajapati. But he called off the meeting at the last minute—for reasons best known to him. Gayatri is considered loyal to Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Sources say that Mulayam has refused to address election meetings because many of his loyalists like Ambika Chaudhry and Narad Rai are contesting election on BSP ticket. “Mulayam does not want that his presence should hamper their electoral prospects,” they said. Chaudhry and Rai had joined BSP after they were denied tickets by Akhilesh Yadav.

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