Saurabh Sharma | May 10, 2019 | 5 min read
It’s going to be Yadav versus Yadav in the city of Azamgarh, which goes to polls on May 12, the second-last phase of polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Azamgarh is one of the few parliamentary constituencies that did not get swept away in the 2014 Modi wave and elected Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav as its lawmaker.
This time the BJP has fielded Bhojpuri film actor Dinesh Lal Yadav, popularly known by his famous on-screen name Nirahua; meanwhile, the Gathbandhan, a coalition of SP, BSP, and RLD has fielded former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The SP won the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat for the first time in 1996, when Ramakant Yadav contested and triumphed. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has represented the seat thrice — in 1998, 2004, and 2008. The BJP bagged the seat in 2009 when Ramakant Yadav was its candidate. He recently joined the Congress and has been fielded from the Bhadohi Lok Sabha constituency.
The Yadav land of the east
The Azamgarh parliamentary constituency is also known as the Yadav land of the east owing to the huge number of Yadav voters. According to the figures available with the district administration, the upper caste contributes 2.90 lakh votes, OBC 6.80 lakh, Dalits 4.50 lakh, and minorities 3.10 lakh.
Going by the caste equations, the SP is confident of hoisting its flag again from this seat. SP Spokesperson Ameeq Jamai said, “The voters of Azamgarh are intelligent. They did not fall for the fake poll promises made by the Bharatiya Jumla Party [BJP] and voted Mulayam Singh to power. This time also Azamgarh is going to elect Akhilesh Yadav, because he has done a lot of work for the area and for the entire state. The caste arithmetic also supports us.”
On the other hand, the BJP, too, is trying its best to win the seat. A few days ago, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while addressing a public rally, had said he has brought two Bhojpuri actors to the state, and the party has given them tickets because Poorvanchal (eastern UP) also wants to see development.
“I know they — Ravi Kishan from Gorakhpur and Dinesh Lal from Azamgarh — are going to win. Once in power, they will help the government to set up a film industry here, ensuring development in Poorvanchal,” he had claimed.
Tracking the pulse of Azamgarh
Political commentator Rajendra Gautam, however, believes that even a star like Dinesh Lal Yadav is unlikely to help the BJP make inroads in Azamgarh, not least because Akhilesh Yadav is contesting from this seat, but also because there is no other big face or a competitor to match the SP president.
“In 2014, Mulayam Singh Yadav won the seat with a margin of over 60,000 votes. A leader as big as Ramakant Yadav, who was with the BJP then, failed despite the Modi wave. Now, Ramakant Yadav is with the Congress and contesting from Bhadohi, giving indirect support to Akhilesh Yadav. Also, one thing no one is talking about is BJP rebel I P Singh joining the red cap brigade [SP] after being suspended from the party for anti-party activities,” said Gautam.
“I P Singh hails from Azamgarh; he knows the pulse of this constituency. He was one of the backroom boys of the BJP who worked for the party in Azamgarh and decreased the winning margin. Although he has been given a red card by the Election Commission, the way SP is campaigning in the constituency makes it clear that it doesn’t want to lose this seat at any cost. Meanwhile, BJP’s move of fielding a parachute candidate, who has no political background, is like giving a walkover to Akhilesh Yadav.”
A triangular contest or a walkover?
Interestingly, the other contestant pitted against Dinesh Lal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav is journalist Rajiv Talwar of Ullu TV, who has garnered a lot of social media attention with his abusive reporting live on social media platforms.
In an interaction with this reporter, Talwar said, “This region has been conned by every party for the past many years; there has been no development or job creation. The youths of the area are going to other parts of the country in search of jobs. I am contesting this election to tell the leaders that you can fool the public once but not always. I know I won’t win, but I will surely make some difference by cutting into the votes of both candidates. I’m making it clear that I’m not going to support any political party.”
Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav said, “The BJP is going to lose embarrassingly in these elections; I have the blessings of the people of Azamgarh. The last time they’d blessed Neta ji [Mulayam Singh Yadav]; this time they will choose me as their lawmaker.
“Azamgarh has socialism in its soil; it is also my Karmabhoomi. The people of this constituency will show BJP and its hate politics the door.”
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