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Sunday, May 3, 2009

What may cause MM Joshi's defeat in Varanasi?

Polling was peaceful in Varanasi. But low turnout of Hindu voters, in contrast to Muslim voters, split of Hindu votes, consolidation of BSP's votes and alleged police help to Mukhtar Ansari, may see him win: An analysis.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 16 Apr 2009 Views:3401 Comments:6

IN VARANASI, BJP’s senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi seems to be at a disadvantage. Low voter turnout, especially in the Hindu dominated areas, opposed to heavy turnout of Muslim and Dalit voters could help the mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari win, rather comfortably, feel political observers.

Though unhappy about the possible defeat of Joshi, they reasoned that on the one hand, the Muslim and Dalit votes have consolidated, while on the other hand, the Hindu votes are split between Joshi, the sitting MP of Congress Rajesh Mishra and BJP’s rebel MLA Ajay Rai, contesting on Samajwadi Party ticket.

To make matters worse, the state police is allegedly supporting BSP’s muscleman Ansari. The central forces are conspicuously absent, other than in polling booths.

Meanwhile, Mishra is fighting tooth and nail to retain his seat, though he has been pushed into a relative oblivion in the limelight of the Physics professor from Allahabad University, Joshi of BJP, taking on the Ansari of BSP.

Ajai Rai, the BJP rebel who has joined the Samajwadi Party (SP), is a muscleman of sorts. He is seen more as the spoilsport in the Varanasi poll. It’s worth noting that Rai is still a BJP MLA from the Kolasala assembly segment, though he is contesting as SP’s candidate for the Lok Sabha. A section of the BJP rank and file is with him, though silently.

The final tally of the poll percentage was 44 per cent at the close of the polling, at Varanasi, at 5pm. It was 36.5 per cent, at 4pm. Polling was brisk in the last hour. It was largely peaceful.

However, the poll percentage was hovering near the 50 per cent mark, in Muslim dominated areas of Varanasi, like Bajardiha, Pili Kothi, Madanpura, Lallapura, Nai Sadak, Dal Mandi, etc.

It’s worth pointing out that there was a clash in Bajardiha locality, in which two persons of the minority community had died in police firing, while eight others were injured. The anger amongst the people was expressed through huge voter turnout, which of course is a good sign in a democracy.

At about 4.45pm, additional force was requested and rushed to two Muslim dominated areas, Khwajapura and Kaji Sadullapura. The rush of voters was so large that the polling parties were finding it difficult to manage them.

Some people feel that SP played a smart card by fielding Rai. They knew that he would damage Joshi and his BJP camp more than help SP. Also, for Rai, it did not matter if he lost, as it is his first attempt in parliamentary election. His ability to damage BJP suited both the SP and Rai.

Ansari was close to SP, before he became Mayawati’s blue-eyed boy. The locals still remember that Ansari had accompanied Behenji (Mayawati) in her open vehicle, when she was the CM, in her earlier tenure, at a function of the Sampurnanand University, Jagatganj.

Also, Ansari has been accused, though not convicted, in the Krishnanand Rai (BJP’s MLA from Gazipur) murder case. That’s the reason why he is lodged in Kanpur jail presently. SP had aided him in the case initially. He is still close to the SP, in all probability, though he is close to Mayawati. Mafia dons of UP often keep good relations with more than one party, even if they are political foes.

So, if Ansari wins, SP would be happy that they managed to keep BJP’s Joshi at bay. For the SP, Ansari is more of an enemy of the enemy like situation. It looks probable, if not possible. “Anything can happen in UP politics,” stated Bageesh Singh.

Meanwhile, it’s worth mentioning that for the Congress it took 15 long years to get back into power in the ancient temple town. It was an oasis in the desert of Congress fortunes, as it had been pushed to fourth place or below, in the rest of Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier, the BJP had retained the Varanasi seat between 1991 and 1999, successively. In the last election (2004), BSP was in the fourth spot, while SP had to be satisfied with the fifth place.

In 1999, Congress was close second, as its vote share was 25.48 per cent, compared to BJP’s vote share of almost 34 per cent. In 2004, Mishra polled 57,000 votes more than the BJP candidate.

The saffron party, BJP’s record of vote share in this Hindu town reveals that it managed to get 41.09 per cent votes in 1991, reaching an all time high of 44.61 per cent in 1996 Lok Sabha election. Though there was a decline in the percentage of votes in the next two elections, BJP managed to retain Varanasi with itself. Its vote share was 42.97 per cent in 1998 and 33.95 per cent in 1999. It eventually lost the seat, in 2004, to Congress.

The intelligentsia of Varanasi is asking, rather sadly, if the Physics professor Joshi can take on the mafia don-turned-politician Ansari, who had been likened to Robinhood by BSP chief Mayawati, in a recent public meeting in his support.

Though most would like to see Joshi emerge victorious, they are not confident of his winning, as the murky ground realities put him at a disadvantage. Even after all this so-called political ‘magaj-mari’ (brainstorming) if the BJP wins, it would be nothing less than a miracle, feel political observers.


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