January 29, 2023

UP assembly elections: BJP’s poll juggernaut faces 2 trouble spots in terai region | Lucknow News – Times of India

LUCKNOW: After pressing its well-oiled organizational machinery in the west UP region, the BJP is all set to wade into politically troubled terrain of Pilibhit and Lakhimpur Kheri in terai region which have been in news for all the wrong reasons for the saffron party.
While Pilibhit is the parliamentary seat of BJP MP Varun Gandhi, who has been upping the ante against his own party over a host of issues including farmer protest, Kheri happens to be the region which was rocked by a raging violence after a cavalcade, allegedly owned by junior home minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish, mowed down protesting farmers, killing four of them. In retaliation, three BJP workers were also killed.
The two districts alone cover 12 out of the 60 assembly seats in the fourth phase for which election notification was issued on Thursday. Informed BJP sources said that senior party leaders are expected to start camping in the two districts soon after the first two phases of polling.
The BJP, which won all 12 seats straddling the two districts in the 2017 assembly elections, has already quarantined Varun politically by first dropping him from the national executive and then from the list of star campaigners. Sources admitted that Varun’s dim view of the BJP vis-a-vis farmers’ protests might have stoked an element of unease among the voters, especially the farming community, which happens to be electorally significant in the region.
The saffron top brass is learnt to have assessed the situation after which it decided to change two out of four sitting MLAs from Pilibhhit district — Kishan Rajpoot has been replaced by Swami Pravaktanand in Barkheda while in Bisalpur, Vivek Verma has replaced Agyash Verma. The party has, however, retained Sanjay Gangwar from Pilibhit sadar and Baburam Paswan from Puranpur assembly seats.
The BJP is also treading cautiously in the case of Lakhimpur which has a significant population of Sikh community. Experts point out that the spot near Tikonia village where violence erupted in October last year during a farmers’ protest is close to the area linked to the life of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. The district and the adjoining areas in the Terai have been home to Sikh farmers for generations – including the migrants who came from an undivided Punjab.
The saffron dispensation has been keeping Teni at an arm’s distance while not taking any hard stance against him despite shrill opposition voices demanding his sacking from the Narendra Modi cabinet. Like in case of Varun, the BJP has also avoided Teni being made party’s star campaigner for the UP polls.
“It was an unfortunate incident. All necessary steps have been taken to bring culprits to book,” said a senior BJP leader camping in Lakhimpur. The district also saw political turbulence when the BJP MLA from Dhaurahra, Bala Prasad Awasthi turned rebel and switched over to SP. In place of Awasthi, the BJP has now fielded Vinod Shankar Awasthi. The other assembly seat in the district where the BJP has made changes is Nighasan where sitting party MLA Ram Kumar Patel has been replaced by Shashank Verma.

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