Updated: March 10, 2021 1:40:21 pm
In the last two phases of the UP elections, the BJP will be looking for returns on investments made in eastern UP. In the last 1½ years, the Centre has given a number of development projects to the region, which includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, while the party has given key positions to eastern UP leaders.
The region has 89 seats of UP’s 403. The BJP holds only 11 of these but gained in 2014 to win 17 of the 18 Lok Sabha seats, the exception being Azamgarh. In over a dozen assembly seats, the BJP has never won once.
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BJP leaders have held a number of organisational meets, several Union ministers have visited, as has Modi who, in December, interacted and lunched with 26,000 BJP workers from across his constituency.
PM and projects
Modi has visited the region over half a dozen times in the last one year. In Ballia on May 1, the prime minister launched the flagship Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana for cooking gas to the poor. In Gorakhpur on July 22, Modi laid the foundation for the reopening of a fertiliser factory, and for a new Rs 1,000 crore, 700-bed AIIMS. He promised promotion of tourism, spoke of a policy to facilitate aircraft landing at smaller places such as Gorakhpur, and announced development of national highways — from Sonauli to Gorakhpur (Rs 570 crore), Nepal border to Rudauli (Rs 550 crore), Gorakhpur-Varanasi (Rs 650 crore).
In Varanasi on October 24, the PM laid the foundation for the City Gas Distribution Project. The same day, the Centre published an advertisement titled “Viksit Purvanchal — Samridha Bharat”. In 2014, the PM had laid the foundation stone for a Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum in Varanasi.
In Ghazipur on November 14, Modi laid the foundation stone for a Rs 1,776 crore Mau-Ghazipur-Tarighat railway line, doubling of the Ghazipur-Ballia track at Rs 402 crore, a new Shabdbhedi Express between Ghazipur and Kolkata via Varanasi, and a perishable cargo complex at Ghazipur ghat.
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Party and government posts
Last July’s cabinet expansion 5 inducted Anupriya Patel (Mirzapur) and Mahendra Nath Pandey (Chandauli), eastern UP’s third and fourth Union ministers alongside Kalraj Mishra (Deoria) and Manoj Sinha (Ghazipur) in addition to Modi himself.
The BJP appointed Kaushambi MP Vinod Sonkar as national president of its SC Morcha, Bhadohi MP Virendra Singh Mast as national president of its Kisan Morcha and former BSP MP Dara Singh Chauhan of Azamgarh as national president of its OBC Morcha.
While Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath (a Thakur) is already influential in the region, the party last year gave a Rajya Sabha berth to its state vice-president from Gorakhpur, Shiv Pratap Shukla, to attract Brahmins. For OBC and SC votes, the BJP has struck alliances with Anupriya’s Apna Dal-Sonelal (12 seats) and Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (8). In a public meeting in Mau, the PM said allies will get participation in the UP government even if the BJP alone has a majority.
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