Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh Phase Five: High Voter Turnout Suggests Barabanki Was A Close BJP-Congress Fight

Nishtha Anushree

May 21, 2024, 02:34 PM | Updated 02:34 PM IST

UP CM Yogi Adityanath and PM Narendra Modi campaigned for BJP candidate Rajrani Rawat (leftmost) in Barabanki on 17 May
UP CM Yogi Adityanath and PM Narendra Modi campaigned for BJP candidate Rajrani Rawat (leftmost) in Barabanki on 17 May

Barabanki is emerging as an interesting seat after the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections. It recorded the highest voter turnout among the 52 seats of Uttar Pradesh that have voted till now.

While the average turnout on the 14 seats that voted on Monday (20 May) was 57.79 per cent, Barabanki reported 66.91 per cent voting, quite ahead of the runner-up constituency Jhansi which recorded a turnout of 63.57 per cent.

This turnout is over 3 per cent points higher than even the 2019 elections. In 2019, 63.61 per cent voter turnout was reported in Barabanki.

Such a high turnout suggests that both the main parties, BJP and SP-Congress alliance, got the maximum number of their voters to the polling booths. Speculations are rife that the margin of victory of the eventual winner may be low, maybe even in hundreds of votes.

While the BJP is looking to win this seat for the third consecutive time, Congress is looking to regain it after 2009. Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is making this contest three-cornered.

The BJP had earlier announced the ticket of its incumbent MP, Upendra Singh Rawat. However, after a profane video, allegedly featuring Upendra Rawat emerged, he himself withdrew from the contest and the ticket was given to Zila Panchayat chairperson Rajrani Rawat.

Since many other local BJP leaders were expecting a ticket for themselves, reports suggested the whole Barabanki BJP cadre could not be mobilised for Rajrani in the constituency.

On the other end, the Congress-SP alliance seemed consolidated behind senior leader P L Punia.

Punia himself represented this constituency in 2009 and then served as a Rajya Sabha MP from 2014 to 2020. He passed on the baton this time to his son, Tanuj Punia, who was contesting on the Congress ticket.

Notably, in 2019 too, Tanuj contested on a Congress ticket but came third as the Samajwadi Party (SP) was not in alliance with the Congress at that time.

However, with SP's support this time, he is expected to perform much better than in 2019. The combined vote share of SP and Congress in 2019 was higher than the BJP's.

However, in 2019, SP and BSP were in an alliance. With BSP fielding its own candidate, Shiv Kumar Dohare, few votes that the SP got in 2019, might go back to the BSP.

Thus, BSP will play a crucial role in defining the results in this constituency. Dohare is contesting his maiden election and was serving as the BSP's Lucknow district in-charge.

The seat witnessed high-pitched election campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself campaigned here on 17 May, along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Earlier on 13 May too, the UP CM had campaigned here. On behalf of the INDI Alliance, SP national president Akhilesh Yadav and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigned in the constituency.

If we take a hint from the 2022 UP Assembly elections, this seat also signals a tough fight as of the five assembly segments in this constituency, three were won by the SP and two by the BJP. Many of these contests even then were close calls.

While the results will be known on 4 June only, a rare spectacle of a Congress candidate giving a tough fight in Uttar Pradesh was seen in Barabanki.

Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

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