Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh): Eight Assembly seats in Varanasi will be in the focus in the last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, with multiple seats witnessing close contests.
The Varanasi district is witnessing a multi-cornered contest among the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Samajwadi Party and Congress. Out of eight Assembly seats, five are within the Parliamentary constituency of Varanasi, represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha.
The eight seats are Banaras City South, Banaras City North, Shivpur, Sewapuri, Cantonment, Ajgara, Pindra and Rohaniya.
In Banaras South, BJP has fielded state minister Neelkanth Tiwari against SP’s Kishan Dixit. Dixit is the Mahant of Mahaamrtyunjay temple. Locals say that the two candidates hail from the Brahmin caste, pointing to a close contest.
“Dixit has been working among the people for a long time. Therefore, he holds a good influence among the voters. Whereas, Tiwari is a minister and is contesting the election in the name of PM Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath,” said a local.
From Banaras (North), the BJP has fielded another state minister Ravindra Jaiswal against SP’s Ashfaq Ahmed. Jaiswal has won the elections in 2012 and 2017. This seat is also seen witnessing a tough contest.
In Shivpur, another minister and the BJP candidate Anil Rajbhar is contesting the polls against SP’s Arvind Rajbhar. Arvind is the son of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party chief Omprakash Rajbhar. The seat has a sizable caste population belonging to Brahmin, Vaishya, Kshatriya, Rajbhar, Patel, Maurya, Yadav, Scheduled Caste, among others.
From the Sevapuri Assembly constituency, Nilratna Patel and Surendra Patel are giving neck to neck fights to each other. Neelratna Patel is contesting from the BJP and Surendra Patel is the SP nominee. Surendra Patel has a stronghold over the region. However, Neelratna Patel had won the 2017 polls.
Samajwadi Party and the BJP seem to be engaged in a neck to neck contest on most of the seats in the district but in the Pindra constituency, Congress’ Ajay Rai is giving a tough fight.
The BJP has fielded Awadhesh Singh from the Pindra seat.
In the 1996, 2002 and 2007 elections, Ajay Rai had won the elections on a BJP ticket. After the delimitation, the Kolasala Assembly seat changed to Pindra.
The number of Brahmin voters in the Pindra Assembly seat is about 55,000, while Patels are 70,000 and there are 60,000 Dalits. There are 25,000 Yadavs, 30,000 Kshatriya, 30,000 Bhumihar, 25,000 Muslims, and 20,000 Maurya voters in the Pindra Assembly seat.
Babu Lal Patel from the BSP is also in the fray, and giving a tough contest while he had come second in the 2017 polls from the constituency.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead a high-octane roadshow in Varanasi on Friday.
A total of 54 Assembly seats across nine districts including Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Sonbhadra, will go to polls on March 7.
Votes will be counted on March 10.