UP 2022: BJP Making It Clear That Expressway To Victory Goes Through Purvanchal
Given that around 40 per cent of the assembly seats in the state are from the area, it is only after winning the contest in Purvanchal that any party can make a claim to secure victory in the entire state.
Uttar Pradesh's 28 districts come within Purvanchal, which has a total of more than 150 assembly seats.
With barely months to go for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, all political parties have intensified their political campaigns. For the Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken over the command of UP elections with his prime focus being the Purvanchal region. PM Modi, on Tuesday (16 January) inaugurated the 340.8 km long Purvanchal Expressway, built at a cost of Rs 22,000 crore, which has directly linked eastern UP with the capital Lucknow.
As the BJP has already sounded its bugle for the upcoming assembly polls, the BJP high command seems to have made eastern U.P. its priority. Be it PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, or UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, all were recently seen inaugurating or laying foundations of mega development projects in Purvanchal. The extent of BJP’s interest in this region is evident from the fact that PM Modi’s Sultanpur visit was his third such appearance in Purvanchal in the past one month.
PM Modi’s belief in Purvanchal’s growth potential
PM Modi arrived to inaugurate the Purvanchal Expressway in Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft that landed on the 3.2 km long emergency-use airstrip. "When I laid the foundation stone of the highway three years back, I never thought I would land here in an aircraft one day. This highway will benefit the poor, middle class, farmers, and traders," said PM Modi. He alleged that the development of Purvanchal has long been ignored by successive governments as they were concerned only about their family’s interests. “This region (Purvanchal), once known for mafia-ism, where the people have been deliberately kept poor, is now setting new benchmarks of development,” claimed the Prime Minister. “In the entire world, whoever has any doubts about the capabilities of U.P. and its people, can come to Sultanpur and see the strength of U.P.,” he added.
The prime minister, reiterating his belief in CM Adityanath’s work, called him a “karmayogi” who has indiscriminately ensured that Purvanchal changes rapidly for the better, be it continuous electricity supply (Saubhagya Yojna etc.), improved healthcare infrastructure (new medical colleges, AIIMS, Ayushman Bharat etc.), better road connectivity, new airports, educational reform, or the replacement of mafia rule with the strict rule of law.
While explaining the need to enhance connectivity in order to channelize the huge development potential of these regions, PM Modi highlighted how the Yogi Adityanath government, with projects such as Bundelkhand Expressway, Gorakhpur Link Expressway, and Ganga Expressway etc., is linking even tier-2 and tier-3 cities with the capital and big cities.
The prime minister also informed that major industries- food-processing, cold storage, agro-based, pharma, electrical, textile, handloom, petrochemical, metal, furniture, defence corridor etc.- will be set up along the Purvanchal Expressway, for which 21 locations have already been identified.
It is significant that U.P. is not just planning for 5-years, but here the infrastructural development is now being done keeping in view the needs of this entire decade, noted PM Modi. “This is the underlying thought behind connecting U.P. to the eastern and western sea coasts through the dedicated freight corridors...,” he added.
Shah tries to woo Purvanchal on Yogi’s work and PM’s vision
The Home Minister, during his two-day visit to Purvanchal, spoke at length in Azamgarh and Basti, about the development works done by the Yogi-Modi duo in Uttar Pradesh. “It is just the beginning of the change. Azamgarh, which was portrayed as the nursery for terrorism during previous governments, will soon become a temple of Goddess Saraswati and a seat of education for the youth of eastern UP,” said Home Minister Amit Shah, after inaugurating a state university (to be named after Maharaja Suheldev), at a public rally in Azamgarh on 13 November.
Shah pointed out that the BJP promised 10 new universities and 40 new medical colleges in the state, and CM Adityanath has delivered these promises well within time. Taking potshots at the previous governments, the home minister exclaimed that Yogi Adityanath has put a full stop on their rule of casteism, familism, and appeasement politics.
“Before 2017, Uttar Pradesh was the sixth largest economy in the country, today it is ranked second. The state’s GDP has soared from Rs 10 lakh 90 thousand crore to over Rs 21 lakh crore. Similarly, during the last five years, the unemployment rate has come down from 17.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent,” claimed Shah. He presented comparative statistics to highlight the work done by CM Adityanath- 10 medical colleges in 70 years v/s 40 in 5 years, 1200 medical seats v/s 3800 seats, 4 airports v/s 9 functional airports, 4 half-built expressways v/s 5 new complete expressways.
“We brought in JAM --- J for Jan-Dhan account, A for Aadhaar card, M for mobile phones, Samajwadi Party also claimed to have brought a JAM. It stands for Jinnah, Azam Khan and Mukhtar (Ansari),” said Shah while taking a dig at SP chief Akhilesh Yadav for his “Jinnah Prem”. He continued further and said that CM Adityanath has rid Purvanchal of both “Mosquito & Mafia”. In addition to this, Shah congratulated the people of Azamgarh for the new state university and the Purvanchal Expressway.
While in Basti to inaugurate the Khel Mahakumbh, Shah said “Today, Uttar Pradesh is witnessing all-round development simultaneously.” While launching 98 projects worth Rs 189 crores, he said that “on one hand development schemes are being launched, and on the other hand, work is being done to bring together every youth of the town with the Khel Mahakumbh.”
“Whether there is any mafia visible in Purvanchal or the entire Uttar Pradesh...Yogi ji kicked out those who wished to trigger forced migration. CM Adityanath has made U.P. a riot-free state, thus ensuring developmental progress in U.P.,” claimed Shah.
The Electoral Equations in the Battle for Purvanchal
Given that around 40 per cent of the assembly seats in the state are from this area, it is only after winning the battle of Purvanchal that any party can make a claim to secure victory in the entire state. Uttar Pradesh's 28 districts come within Purvanchal, which has a total of 164 assembly seats. In the 2017 elections, out of 164 seats in Purvanchal, BJP had won 115 seats, while SP got 17, BSP got 14, Congress got 2 and others got 16 seats.
In Purvanchal, BJP has also tied up with caste-based parties to keep its equation strong. BJP along with Anupriya Patel's Apna Dal (S) and Sanjay Sanjay Nishad's Nishad Party will try their luck in the electoral fray this time. While Anupriya Patel has a hold on Kurmi votes, Sanjay Nishad has an impact on the Mallah community. The political base of both these parties is in the districts of Purvanchal. However, given the additional challenge of former NDA member Om Prakash Rajbhar joining hands with Akhilesh Yadav, it won’t be an easy task for the BJP to woo the Rajbhar community which makes around 12 per cent of the electorate in the Purvanchal region.
The inconsistency in the voting pattern of Purvanchal in the past few decades is a matter of concern for the BJP. It is clear as to why the BJP’s high command is making regular visits to Purvanchal and stressing on development and welfare schemes for the region. As per reports, the BJP has planned to hold half a dozen public meetings of PM Modi in Purvanchal before the announcement of the UP 2022 assembly election schedule.
As the way to secure power in the centre goes through Uttar Pradesh, similarly to get seated at the throne of U.P., it is deemed necessary to hoist the flag of victory in the eastern part of the State. It is with this formula, that the BJP, which has won the most seats in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha and 2017 assembly elections, is once again trying to make deep inroads in Purvanchal for its Mission-2022. While the BJP has shown that it has a lot in its bag for Purvanchal, it will be interesting to see what the voter of Purvanchal has in store for the BJP.
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