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Precursor to 2019? BSP Backs SP for Phulpur Bypolls

Bypoll in Uttar Pradesh’s Phulpur seems to be a test for all the contesting parties ahead of the 2019 elections.

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Political equations seem to be changing ahead of the upcoming bypolls in two Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh – Phulpur and Gorakhpur. The polls are scheduled to take place on 11 March, and the Bahujan Samaj Party has announced its support for rival Samajwadi Party.

BJP won the Phulpur seat for the first time in 2014, when Keshav Prasad Maurya contested for the party. The BJP has made this seat into a prestige issue, but it is not an easy battle to win.

The Congress, BSP and SP want to check their hold in these constituencies. These elections are almost a test for them. Making the elections more significant is the focus on caste-based politics in Phulpur.

There are a majority of OBC voters in Phulpur. 'Kurmi’ caste is expected to play the role of a deciding factor and every party is fighting for ‘Kurmi’ votes. BJP did not want to risk anything in this situation. It waited for Samajwadi and Congress to announce their respective candidates, and then named Kaushalendra Singh Patel from Varanasi as its candidate. This step was taken too woo the Patel community. But some people resent Kaushalendra and say he has been imported.

Coming to the BSP-factor, it should be noted that Phulpur has two and a half lakh Dalit voters who have the power to shape the results. It was believed that Dalit voters may favour Congress in absence of a BSP candidate, but after Mayawati’s support for SP, the political scenario may change.

Phulpur voters that The Quint spoke to claimed that nothing has changed in the town during the last four years.

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(This story was first published in Quint Hindi)

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