Awadh region’s 82 constituencies spread over 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh will go to elections in the fourth and fifth phases on February 23 and 27. In 2017, BJP had won 67 of these, SP eight, BSP five and Congress two. Being the largest region of the state after Purvanchal, it has all the poll flavours, ranging from farmers’ unrest to Ram temple to caste equations.
Farmers’ Unrest, Lakhimpur
In October, some protesting farmers were killed after an SUV allegedly ploughed into them from behind. Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra is one of the accused. Ashish has got bail from the Lucknow bench of Allahabad HC. The region has a good number of Sikh voters, who were active during the farmers’ movement. In 2017, BJP had won all the eight seats in Lakhimpur, which will also test Teni’s hold.
The construction of the temple is in full swing in Ayodhya. The UP government has announced several projects for the town and BJP leaders are hopeful of reaping the benefits. Opposition SP and BSP, too, are focussing on Ayodhya. BSP started its Brahmin Sammelan from Ayodhya last July.
The Awadh region is like a mini-UP because of its caste combination. Usually, the party that gains momentum in the region sets a trend in its favour in the Purvanchal region too. The Purvanchal region will vote in the sixth and seventh phases. After Bundelkhand, the Awadh belt has the maximum number of Brahmin voters (nearly 12%). In addition, there are 7% Thakurs and 5% Banias. Unnao’s Bhagwantnagar constituency has the maximum number of Brahmins. In 2017, BJP’s Hridaya Narayan Dikshit won this seat by over 50,000 votes. BJP has this time fielded Ashutosh Shukla from here. Awadh also has 43% OBC voters and among them Yadavs and Kurmis account for 7% each, followed by 5% Kushwahas. Nishads and Lodhs have 4% votes. The four districts of Awadh, Unnao, Sitapur and Raebareli have more than 30% SC voters. The Pasi and Jatav communities account for 9% and 8% votes, respectively. The region also has 14% Muslim voters.
BJP and the SP have poached leaders to strengthen their position among the SC and non-Yadav OBC voters. In Raebareli district, two Congress MLAs, Aditi Singh and Rakesh Singh, are contesting on BJP ticket from Raebareli and Harchandpur. In Purwa, BSP MLA Anil Singh is contesting on BJP ticket. BSP MLAs Ram Achal Rajbhar and Lalji Verma are contesting from Akbarpur and Katehari on SP ticket.