Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh: Will BJP's 'Half-Hearted' Efforts In Sultanpur Cost Maneka Gandhi Her Seat?

Nishtha Anushree

May 23, 2024, 05:19 PM | Updated 05:18 PM IST

Yogi Adityanath campaigning for Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur.
Yogi Adityanath campaigning for Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur.

Sultanpur Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh is set to vote in the sixth phase of elections on 25 May and today (23 May) is the last day of campaigning for it.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) campaign in the constituency was not as high-pitched as is seen in the other constituencies in UP. This might negatively affect its candidate Maneka Gandhi.

Gandhi won this constituency in 2019 by a narrow margin of over 14,000 votes against the joint candidate of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Chandra Bhadra Singh.

While this margin can be easily reversed, a sigh of relief for Gandhi is that SP and BSP are no longer in alliance. However, the BSP candidate in 2019, who gave a tough fight to Gandhi, recently joined the SP.

This has further boosted the SP, which is already posing a difficult challenge with its candidate Ram Bhual Nishad, who is likely to consolidate Nishad (fishermen) community votes for the Akhilesh Yadav-led party.

Hence, the BJP sent its ally, the NISHAD party's chief Sanjay Nishad for the nomination filing of Maneka Gandhi to woo the Nishad voters.

However, Sanjay Nishad did not visit the constituency again to canvass for Gandhi. No senior BJP leader visited the constituency either.

None of the UP's Deputy CMs campaigned in Sultanpur. It was only yesterday that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Sultanpur.

Adityanath is even going two to three times in a single constituency for campaigning. In comparison, Sultanpur seems lower on the list of priorities.

Similarly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is trying to touch every constituency of UP, has also given a miss to Sultanpur. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also did not campaign for Gandhi.

In the absence of senior BJP leaders, Maneka Gandhi campaigned with his son Varun Gandhi today, on the last day of canvassing.

Varun had won this constituency in 2014. In 2019, the BJP swapped the seats between the mother-son duo, fielding Varun from Pilibhit and Maneka from Sultanpur.

While both of them won in 2019, Varun was denied a ticket from Pilibhit this time and Maneka was repeated in Sultanpur. However, earlier there were rumours about Maneka being sidelined.

While she managed to get the ticket, she apparently could not get the support of the BJP high command.

The BSP candidate here is Udraj Verma, a zila panchayat member. He is expected to garner a considerable chunk of Kurmi and Dalit votes.

Another factor to be considered here is that Congress received over 4 per cent votes in 2019. Now it is in alliance with the SP under the INDI Alliance.

If a substantial transfer of votes from Congress to SP and from BSP to SP (due to Chandra Bhadra Singh switching sides) happens, Maneka Gandhi may well end up losing.

While the results will be known on 4 June, one thing is clear, the role of BSP is decisive. If it manages to stop the leakage of its votes to the SP, the BJP might win.

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

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