Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is facing a tough challenge on his Sirathu Assembly seat, tougher than what is initially imagined.
Maurya, now the OBC face of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, is being challenged by Pallavi Patel of Apna Dal (K), an ally of the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Interestingly, Pallavi Patel’s estranged sister, Anupriya Patel, who heads the other faction of Apna Dal, was present during the nomination of Keshav Maurya, giving a clear message of her support to BJP in the constituency.
Pallavi was initially dismissed as a political greenhorn but as the campaign advances, she is challenging the Deputy Chief Minister, banking on the support of Kurmi, Muslim and Yadav voters in the constituency.
Sensing the challenge, the BJP has now deployed over 7,000 ‘Panna Pramukhs’ in the constituency to connect with voters and convince them to support the BJP with the mantra of ‘Party First’ instead of ‘Candidate First’.
Pallavi’s supporters and SP workers are also knocking the doors of voters to garner support, while each ‘Panna Pramukh’ and his team is contacting 60 voters in their respective areas.
BJP co-convener (media) Ashish Gupta told reporters: “Our candidate Keshav Maurya is interacting with voters directly while our teams of panna pramukh and party workers are working hard to ensure a record win from Sirathu Assembly seat.”
Maurya had won the Sirathu seat in 2012 when the SP won a majority.
However, in the 2014 by-election, the SP had snatched the seat from BJP.
In 2017, BJP won back the seat from the SP.
The contest has also acquired a family twist with Maurya claiming he is the son of Sirathu and Pallavi claiming to be the daughter-in-law of Sirathu.
Pallavi is married to Pankaj Niranjan Singh, who hails from Koripur village, in Sadar area of Kaushambhi, while Maurya hails from Sirathu in Kaushambhi.
The Sirathu Assembly seat has around 3.75 lakh voters, including, 55,000 Pasi, 50,000 Muslims, 35,000 Patels, 28,000 SC, 22,000 Yadavs, 25,000 Brahmins, 18,000 Pals, 28,000 Vaishyas, and others.
The BSP has queered the pitch by fielding a Muslim candidate, Musab Usmani, whose presence will dent the SP vote bank directly, giving an edge to BJP.