Purvanchal, or Eastern Uttar Pradesh, has emerged as an intriguing three-way electoral pie — a Narendra Modi stronghold in and around Varanasi, a Yogi Adityanath bastion in Gorakhpur region, and the Akhilesh Yadav fortress of Azamgarh.
The geographic divide throws up a wave of saffron in both the upper and lower parts of Purvanchal and a red wave in the middle. This has also meant that the Bharatiya Janata Party in the February-March assembly polls has lost 25 out of the 26 seats in four districts of Eastern UP through which the Yogi government’s showpiece Purvanchal Expressway project passes — namely, Ambedkar Nagar, Azamgarh, Mau, and Ghazipur. The Samajwadi Party has won all of them.
Purvanchal is also the region where the SP has made its maximum gains in this election. While the alliance led by it won only 13 out of the 107 seats in 18 districts of Eastern UP in 2017, this time it bagged 42. The BJP’s coalition won 80 out of these 107 seats in the previous elections and has dropped to 63 seats this time. The Bahujan Samaj Party has been decimated, despite winning four Lok Sabha seats in Eastern UP in 2019.
The Yogi Belt
The BJP swept all 26 seats in the Eastern UP districts of Gorakhpur, Deoria, Kushinagar, and Sant Kabir Nagar and seven out of the 10 seats in Siddharthnagar and Maharajganj districts. This is the bastion of chief minister Yogi Adityanath who was earlier the MP of Gorakhpur and now the MLA from Gorakhpur Sadar. The total seats won by the BJP-led alliance in the upper part of Purvanchal was one more (33) than in 2017, showing Yogi’s total dominance here.
BJP ally Nishad Party was a major winner in this region as well.
The Akhilesh Stronghold
It was in middle Purvanchal with 47 seats that the SP’s alliance along with the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) really worked. The SP-led bloc won all 22 seats in the Azamgarh, Ambedkar Nagar, and Ghazipur districts and 16 out of the 25 seats in Mau, Ballia, Basti, and Jaunpur districts. The seats won by the SP’s alliance in middle Purvanchal, hence, went up to 38 seats from only 11 in 2017. The BJP won 26 seats in this region in 2017 but dropped to only eight this time.
The biggest loser was the BSP that had won four Lok Sabha seats here in 2019 — Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Lalganj, and Ghosi — but was reduced to only one assembly seat this time. This indicates Mayawati’s party won these parliamentary constituencies based on the SP’s support in 2019.
The Modi Fortress
Lower Purvanchal comprising 24 seats continues to be a BJP bastion and a fortress of the Varanasi MP and PM, Narendra Modi. The BJP-led alliance won 22 of these seats this time, winning all the constituencies in the districts of Varanasi, Mirzapur, Sonbhadra, and Varanasi, and five out of the seven in Sant Ravidas Nagar and Chandauli. This was overall the same performance as in 2017.
The Samajwadi Party could win only two seats in lower Purvanchal.
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