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Barabanki Lok Sabha Election 2024: Congress Banks on SP Resurgence as BJP Counts on Modi Magic

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Barabanki is one of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. Presently, Barabanki LS comprises of these assembly segments: Kursi (BJP), Ram Nagar (SP), Barabanki (SP), Zaidpur (SP) and Haidargarh (BJP). Voting for the Barabanki Lok Sabha seat will take place in the fifth phase of General Elections on May 20. The counting of votes will take place on June 4.

2019 Result and 2024 Candidates

The Current MP of Barabanki is Upendra Singh Rawat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Rawat had won by a margin of over 1 lakh votes.

The top candidates for the 2024 polls in Barabanki are Rajrani Rawat of the BJP and Tanuj Punia of the Congress.

Political Dynamics

BJP Faces Resurgent SP Challenge

The BJP’s campaign got off to a rough start in Barabanki. The saffron party had initially fielded Upendra Singh Rawat, however, he had to be replaced owing to a storm which erupted after an indecent video of the candidate surfaced online. The BJP replaced Upendra Rawat with Rajrani Rawat, who is now trying to win the seat for the BJP for a third straight term.

The BJP faces a significant Samajwadi challenge in Barabanki, since Akhilesh Yadav’s party has seen its graph rise here in recent years. In the 2022 assembly elections, for example, the SP was able to win three of the assembly segments falling under Barabanki LS, while the BJP managed to win only two. The SP has also been able to register victories in local elections in some of the assembly segments. This upsurge has energised the Samajwadi cadre, much to the worry of the BJP.

At a time when the SP-Congress alliance is fighting hard to dislodge the BJP from Barabanki, the saffron party has many problems of its own to deal with. Biggest among these is the intense factionalism being witnessed in the local BJP unit. Following Upendra Rawat’s removal as candidate, some factions have become vocal against the candidature of Rajrani Rawat. Ground inputs also indicate that some of the BJP’s own factions are working to ensure Rajrani’s defeat.

Ground inputs also reveal that the “Modi Magic” has subsided in Barabanki. The craze which the electorate had for PM Modi in previous elections is not quite visible at the same magnitude. Importantly, this must not be construed as a statement of disillusionment or anger against the Prime Minister or the BJP. It is being said that the BJP voter has gone silent, and its voice will only be heard when the constituency goes to polls.

It is still widely believed that this being a national election, the BJP would have no real problem retaining the seat in the absence of solid voter consolidation in favour of the opposition. This is because the candidate has limited value in an election the BJP is fighting mostly on PM Modi’s face and the work his government has done since 2014. Besides, the beneficiaries of the Modi government’s schemes are many. People here have been provided with houses, water, electricity and LPG connections; even as direct benefit transfers continue to provide the BJP with ample cushion.

The BJP has a lot to worry about in terms of cadre fatigue. BJP workers appear to have grown lethargic, and ground inputs suggest they are not putting the kind of efforts that characterise a classic BJP organisation. There is resentment among many workers over the alleged neglect which the BJP has shown towards them by importing leaders from other parties, especially the SP, who are quickly awarded with plum positions. The average karyakarta – who has worked very hard for the party for years – feels betrayed seeing this trend.

Samajwadi Party Eyes a Victory

In 2019, the Samajwadi Party lost Barabanki to BJP’s Upendra Singh Rawat by a margin of over 1 lakh votes. While the BJP had received about 4.35 lakh votes, the SP had got 4.25 lakh votes. The Indian National Congress stood third, as it could muster just about 1.59 lakh votes. Since 2019, the Congress’ organisational and support base has only further deteriorated here in Barabanki.

However, as part of the INDI alliance, the Samajwadi Party allotted the Barabanki seat to the Congress. The Grand Old Party has now fielded Tanuj Punia to take on BJP’s Rajrani Rawat.

Although there is no palpable anger against either the BJP or PM Modi among the voters, the INDI alliance is confident it can wrest the seat from the saffron party this time. This is primarily because the Samajwadi Party is buoyed by a series of local election victories here, apart from the 3 assembly segments it won in 2022 by withstanding both the Yogi and Modi factors.

The fight in Barabanki is not so much between the BJP and Congress as it is between the SP and BJP. While Tanuj Punia indeed belongs to the Congress, his victory is impossible without near-total transfer of votes from the SP. Although the Muslim voters may be a readily available vote bank for the Congress in Barabanki, they alone will not be enough to defeat the BJP.

This is where the Congress’ problems arise. The fight in Barabanki is close, because the voters are not in a mood to punish Prime Minister Modi. As such, traditional SP voters may not be very inclined to jump ship and support the Congress come polling day. There is a likelihood that the opposition will be unable to trump the BJP for the simple fact that the wide perception in Uttar Pradesh is that PM Modi is set for a third term in power, and that voting for the Congress may well be a waste of one’s franchise.

The Samajwadi Party, as part of its campaign in Barabanki, has been playing the PDA card, accusing the BJP of betraying the Pichhde, Dalit, and Alpasankhyak (backward, Dalit, minority) communities. Together, the Muslims and Scheduled Castes form about 47% of the electorate in Barabanki. The sheer demography of the constituency is making the fight tricky for the BJP this time around, as it could be on the losing side if the INDI bloc achieves complete Muslim-Dalit voter consolidation. However, there are no signs that the Dalits are going to vote for the Congress candidate lock, stock and barrel.

Key Issues

Unemployment and Emigration

One of the major issues in Barabanki has been unemployment. The region lacks big industries and as a result the employment opportunities are limited. Agriculture is the main source of employment and the primary sector for economic development in the region. However, not everyone wishes to involve themselves in agricultural activities, especially the youth who wish for employment in industries to make a better living. Therefore, they emigrate to urban centres such as Lucknow, Delhi or even as far as Maharashtra and Gujarat for the same.

Waterlogging

Waterlogging remains a major impediment to the voters in Barabanki. All thanks to the region’s crumbling drainage system, even a short burst of rain leads to areas filled with water for days on end. Last year in September, after torrential rains drenched the region, houses remained underwater for days. At least 4500-5000 people were displaced due to water logging, the region was devastated as NDRF personnel had to rescue people from their homes. The Chhaya roundabout, KD Singh Babu Road, the roadways bus stand, Peerbatavan, Haddi Ganj, Nabi Ganj and Palhari are the worst-hit areas during monsoon. Waterlogging also leads to the issue of destruction of crops, goods and loss of animal livestock, which causes immense loss to the farmers and or traders.

Farmer Issues

Farming in Barabanki is changing, with farmers shifting towards cash crops like mentha and indigo. But this change hasn’t solved the underlying problems for small farmers. They still struggle to get fair prices for their crops, often forced to sell to local traders at a loss. The costs of electricity, water, and fertilisers continue to burden them, and selling to the government feels out of reach due to complicated procedures. Small farmers, working on limited land, barely break even, especially with the added challenges of storage and transportation. They’re calling on the government to guarantee minimum support prices for their crops and prioritise their basic needs before introducing new policies.

Civic Infrastructure

Lack of civic infrastructure remains a major issue in Barabanki. There is a lack of educational and healthcare facilities along with the absence of all-weather roads connecting rural areas. There is also an issue of erratic electric supply which is caused in the monsoon seasons after rains as citizens have complained that their daily life gets impacted due to it. Moreover, the crumbling healthcare infrastructure forces people to travel to nearby Lucknow for major ailments. Patients in Barabanki also suffer due to a lack of basic amenities at the present healthcare facilities in the region. Ceiling fans running at slow pace in hospitals leaves the attendants with no other option but to use hand fans to provide relief. According to reports last year, heat is compounding the woes of patients as health facilities in the periphery of the state capital grapple with poor infrastructure. At least 68 people, have died of different ailments over the past few days, with the state reeling under a sweltering heat wave.

Communal Tensions

Communal tensions in Barabanki tend to boil over from time to time leading to clashes between communities. In 2021, opposition parties targeted the BJP over the razing of a 100-year-old mosque at Ram Sanehi Ghat in Barabanki. Parties have also accused each other of using hate politics which has led to intense communal divide. This has also led to polarisation of voters along communal lines in the region.

Caste

Caste of the candidate remains a major key issue in the Barabanki Lok Sabha constituency. People still believe in the old adage of ‘Jati kahin nahi jati.’ The region sees a voting percentage of 60% with a majority of voters voting on caste lines. A majority of the literate voting section, either abstains from voting or are either are out of the constituency for better employment opportunities.

Infrastructural Development

Railway Station

Barabanki station is being redeveloped at a cost of Rs. 33.42 crore. Entrances to the station are being increased along with an upgradation of the building facade. Lifts and escalators will also be installed to provide better passenger amenities.

Railway Infrastructure

Several railway lines, including sections from Barabanki to Gorakhpur and Burhwal to Gonda, are being electrified and doubled for increased capacity and speed. There’s also a focus on safety with the elimination of level crossings and construction of road overbridges and underbridges. Passenger amenities at stations have been upgraded with new shelters, benches, and improved facilities, including those for disabled passengers. The introduction of new trains and additional stops on existing routes have made train travel more accessible and convenient for residents of the area.

Civic Infrastructure

The state government had announced in December 2023 that under the Mukhya Mantri Nagariya Alpviksit va Malin Basti Vikas Yojana, preparations are underway to complete a total of 229 development projects in various areas of Maharajganj, Aligarh, Lakhimpur Kheri, Basti, Kannauj, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Agra, and Barabanki. The construction of various structures, including roads, drains, and walls, will take place under these development projects.

Barabanki to Lakhimpur Kheri Link Road

It is an under construction National highway that starts from Barabanki and end to Lakhimpur. It is a four-lane highway which will provide connectivity to the regions of Dewa sharif, Fatehpur, Mahmudabad, Biswan, Laharpur. It will be constructed at a cost of Rs 649 crore.

Voter Demographics

Total Voters: 1816103

SC: 466,738 (25.7%)

Geographical Composition

Urban Voters: 210,668 (11.4%)

Rural Voters: 1,605,435 (88.4%)

Religious Composition

Hindu: 77.1%

Muslim: 22.6%

Explore in-depth coverage of Lok Sabha Election 2024 Schedule, Voter Turnout, Upcoming Phase And Much More At News18 Website



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Pune Police Seizes Escape Car Kia Of Accused's Father | Pune Porsche Crash | English News | News18

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‘He Could Have Called Me’: Naveen Patnaik Responds after PM Modi Promises Probe into ‘Conspiracy behind CM’s Failing Health’

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Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File pic/PTI)

The Odisha chief minister slammed the BJP for ‘spreading rumours’ about his health during the ongoing elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier said that if the BJP comes to power in the state, where assembly elections are being held concurrently with the Lok Sabha polls, it would form a special committee to investigate this issue and reveal the truth

Ahead of the last phase of polling in Odisha on June 1, the battle lines were clearly drawn between former allies Biju Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party with none other than the Prime Minister targeting the Odisha chief minister’s close aide and former bureaucrat VK Pandian, which forced Naveen Patnaik to break his silence on Narendra Modi.

“I understand that the Prime Minister at a public meeting in our state today has stated that I am in bad health and he wants to institute an enquiry to enquire into this matter,” the Odisha CM told reporters. “If he was so concerned about my health and he has stated publicly before that I am a good friend of his, all he had to do was pick up a telephone, ring me up, and ask me about my health.”

Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had indeed called Patnaik his “good friend” in February, ahead of alliance talks between the two parties.

The soft-spoken Odisha chief minister slammed the BJP for “spreading rumours” about his health. “I understand that there are a number of people of the Bharatiya Janata Party from Odisha and Delhi who have been spreading this rumour about my health for the last ten years. Let me assure the Prime Minister that I am in perfect health and I have been campaigning in our state for the last month. Instead of concerning himself about such rumours, he should concentrate on the revision of coal royalty for our state and also our demand for special category status which we have been making for years. This will benefit the people of Odisha with all that funding,” he said.

The opposition BJP, which fancies its chances in Odisha, has made “Odia asmita” an election issue and consistently targeted the Tamilian VK Pandian for the latter’s proximity to the chief minister, alleging that Patnaik is a “mere puppet” in his aide’s hands. And, despite a list of 40 star campaigners, it is Pandian who has led the BJD’s electioneering. Whether it is public meetings, roadshows, or big-ticket interviews, Pandian is everywhere. The BJP is trying to hammer the point that “Pandian, a non-Odia, is usurping power”.

Answering questions from reporters, Patnaik said that his health was alright, or else he would not have campaigned in this heat. “If he is to form a committee, I suggest he form a committee to look into the people who are spreading such false rumours about my health,” he said. “Think about it, this is election time and this has been said to get votes, what else?”

A video of Pandian removing Patnaik’s shaking hand from the public eye during a meeting triggered speculation from the BJP.

“All well-wishers of Naveen Babu are deeply worried. They are concerned seeing the sharp deterioration in Naveen Babu’s health in the past year. Those who have been close to Naveen Babu for years discuss his health when they meet me,” Prime Minister Modi said at a rally. “They say that Naveen Babu is no longer able to do anything on his own. Those who have been close to Naveen Babu for ages believe that there could be some conspiracy behind his deteriorating health.”

The PM, who has been campaigning vigorously in Odisha along with the BJP’s top brass, said the people of the state have the right to know the truth. “Is the same lobby not behind this, the same one who in the name of Naveen Babu and behind the screen is enjoying the perks of power in Odisha? The veil must be lifted from this mystery. There must be an investigation into this. After June 10, when the BJP would have registered a victory, its government in Odisha will form a special committee and will investigate the reasons why Naveen Babu’s health is suddenly continuing to deteriorate.”

In the no-holds-barred fight between the BJD and BJP, the latter has cleverly strategised not to target Naveen Patnaik so much, as he is old and still popular, but his close and trusted aide VK Pandian.

Explore in-depth coverage of Lok Sabha Election 2024 Voter Turnout, Upcoming Phase, Results Date, Exit Poll And Much More At News18 Website



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No Bar In Electoral Law On PM Planning Meditation Trip Ahead Of Last Phase of LS Polls: Sources

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PM Modi will meditate at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial starting on Thursday evening. (Image: News18)

The Congress on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Modi was trying to “circumvent” the silence period restrictions with his 48-hour meditation trip in violation of the Model Code of Conduct

There is no bar under electoral law on the prime minister to undertake a meditation trip during elections, sources in the know said on Wednesday, amid the Congress’s opposition to Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Kanyakumari’s ‘Dhyan Mandapam’ from May 30.

The Congress on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Modi was trying to “circumvent” the silence period restrictions with his 48-hour meditation trip in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. It urged the Election Commission to ensure that the his meditation exercise is not aired by the media.

The sources in the know cited Section 126 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which deals with prohibition of public meetings or propagating and displaying election matter to the public, during the operation of silence period.

Silence period begins 48 hours ahead of the conclusion of poll. Silence period for the last phase, in which Modi’s constituency of Varanasi also goes for poll, begins at 6 PM on Thursday.

However, the provisions of the election law are not applicable in case of multi-phased elections — when the polls are held on different dates — if the content of election matter relates to subsequent phases and in no way, have any reference to the polling area under silence period, they said, citing a press note issued by EC last month.

So long as one does not talk about the locality where election is happening there is no bar, the sources underlined.

If there are no spoken words as reported, there seems to be no violation, they added. Similar permission was given by the Commission to the PM during 2019 Lok Sabha polls when election was scheduled in Varanasi during last phase on May 19.

Explore in-depth coverage of Lok Sabha Election 2024 Voter Turnout, Upcoming Phase, Results Date, Exit Poll And Much More At News18 Website

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)



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