By-elections are to be held on June 23 in Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat, which is considered the center of opposition’s politics. The BJP, which has never won from here till date, has given its full strength this time, while SP and BSP are also engaged in creating caste equations with their claim of victory.
Azamgarh: The Lok Sabha by-polls in Uttar Pradesh on June 23 are being held at a time when the recent violence in several major cities of Uttar Pradesh on June 10 following objectionable remarks made by BJP leaders on Prophet Mohammad followed by repression, arrest and The noise of demolishing houses with bulldozers did not stop. This ruckus was less that student youth took to the streets on a large scale against the Agneepath scheme announced by the central government for recruitment in the army. Incidents of arson and violence have occurred in all cities and towns. This outrage is not over yet.
In Azamgarh, this seat has been vacated by Leader of Opposition Akhilesh Yadav, on which Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded former MP Dharmendra Yadav from Badaun. At the same time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has again bet on Bhojpuri’s star singer Dinesh Yadav ‘Nirhua’. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has also nominated its old face and local leader Guddu Jamali as its candidate.
Azamgarh has been the center of opposition politics even in history. Communist parties, Janata Dal and since 90, only someone from SP or BSP has been winning here. BJP has not been able to win till date, but it may have lost in the 2019 elections, its candidate Nirhua got about three and a half lakh votes and in the last assembly elections, BJP has emerged as the number two party in all the seats of Azamgarh.
In such a situation, this time she does not want to miss the opportunity and has put all her strength by putting all the ministers from top to booth level. Counting the works of his government, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also said in the meeting held on June 19 that ‘this is an opportunity to make Azamgarh into Aryamgarh, don’t miss it.’
He did not stop here and attacked the SP BSP saying that ‘Azamgarh’s identity has been a stronghold of terror during their governments, it has to be changed.’
At the same time, SP candidate Dharmendra Yadav, while talking about the work of his government, is making an issue of repression by BJP, attack on the constitution and unemployment of youth etc. BSP candidate Guddu Jamali is emphasizing on his being local and having a popular image among the people as well as being elected as his own representative within the minority community.
In the midst of these claims- counter-claims, allegations and counter-allegations, there is not much enthusiasm among the people about the election, so the vote percentage is likely to be low.
At the time of various governments, the creation of a division from district of Azamgarh, the opening of a medical college, the construction of Purvanchal Expressway and the airport under construction, the foundation stone of a new university are being counted as the measure of development. No one is talking about the condition of education, health and available institutions, while there is no factory or industry here for employment and there is no prospect of it.
People from all communities who went to the Gulf countries to earn money and agriculture is the main profession here and its condition is not hidden from anyone. Here in the year 2022, till June 15, the estimated target of purchasing wheat at government purchasing centers was 71 thousand metric tons, out of which only 19% i.e. 13 thousand 685 metric tons could be purchased.
On talking to the farmers, he tells that the government had talked about buying wheat by going to the ridge of the field, but only 73 purchasing centers have been opened in the entire district i.e. there is not even one center per Nyaya Panchayat. The MSP government has fixed Rs 2,050 per quintal, in which online slip has to be deducted, carrying your sack, deducting five percent in the name of moisture and going to the purchasing center.
These are such miseries in which even if the local trader goes to his door and gives a rate of eighteen hundred and nineteen hundred rupees per quintal, then he considers it profitable to sell.
Roads within the city and in the village are in a dilapidated condition for years. Azamgarh is not untouched by the way health, education, civic amenities are being dragged everywhere. In such a situation when the election is ultimately to be decided by caste equations and everyone is busy in cultivating the same.
It is estimated that Yadav-Muslim voters are 45% in Azamgarh. 20 percent are upper castes and about the same number of Dalits in the rest are other backward castes. Till now, SP has been winning on the strength of the Yadav Muslim alliance which stands firmly in favor of SP. Whenever there is a break in any of these parts, the trouble of SP increases.
In 2014, when Mulayam Singh was contesting elections here, the BJP put him in a lot of trouble by fielding local bahubali Ramakant Yadav (now an SP MLA) and Guddu Jamali by the BSP. The Yadavs and some sections of the Muslims were successful in breaking it. This time also the attempt is the same, although the circumstances are slightly different.
Dr. Shivkumar, a dentist and Dalit intellectual by profession from Jianpur, says, “The fragmentation that existed among Dalit voters during the last assembly elections continues. Dalits do not have old commitment with the BSP, hence there is apathy. In such a situation, his votes will be scattered, he will be scattered.
He further says, ‘BSP will not get their one-time vote. There is little attraction of Muslims towards Jamali and his supporters are also campaigning about how a seat will affect the government. Local MLAs and even their supporting intellectuals in the city also say that the bulldozer raj that has prevailed in the state today and is being targeted and attacked, so this attraction will hardly translate into a lot of votes.
Suresh Agarwal, a businessman committed to the Sangh since childhood in the city, says, “Guddu Jamali will be successful in causing a big break in the vote of Muslims, only then the BJP will move from number 2 to number one because Yadav is completely with the SP.”
Azam Khan has held two meetings in one day in Azamgarh. Yogi Adityanath has also returned from two meetings. Four-time SP MLA Alam Badi, 84, seems confident of victory. Omprakash Rajbhar of Subhasp has also held regular meetings. However, the absence of Akhilesh Yadav for the meeting is also a matter of discussion among the people.
The results of the by-polls will be out on June 26 but it will be interesting to see how true people’s and parties’ own assessments turn out to be on the ground. Will BJP be able to break this bastion of SP?
(The author is the editor of the monthly magazine Contemporary Opinion.)
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