Will mythological Misrikh see saffron surge once again? | India News

Will mythological Misrikh see saffron surge once again? | India News

Situated around 100km away from Lucknow, Misrikh-Neemsar is a land steeped in mythology where the pantheon of 33 Hindu gods and goddesses reside.
Just like Kashi, Mathura, and Ayodhya, Neemsar (or Naimish Dham) draws huge crowds throughout the year and provides employment to thousands of people.
The Misrikh Lok Sabha constituency, which is among the most backward, is going to polls in the fourth phase on May 13.A part of Sitapur district, Misrikh comprises five assembly constituencies out of which three are in Hardoi (Sandila, Balamau and Bilgram-Mallawan), one in Kanpur (Bilhaur) and the fifth, Misrikh in Sitapur.
The campaign pitch is getting shriller in the religious town as candidates are going all out to woo voters.
In a direct battle, sitting BJP MP Ashok Kumar Rawat (49) will take on SP contender Sangita Rajvanshi. A three-term MP (twice with BSP), Rawat has the backing of the saffron symbol, presence in local events and support from various caste groups.
Sangita (41), daughter-in-law of former minister, three-time MLA and Samajwadi Party veteran Rampal Rajvanshi, is banking on the support of Muslims who play a crucial role in the constituency, besides the support of fellow community members and Dalits.
A reserved seat, Misrikh has about 30% SC voters. Both Rawat and Rajvanshi come from Pasi (Paswan) community and are reaching out to both Jatavs and non-Jatavs to stand behind them instead of BSP. BSP candidate BR Ahirwar (61) is dubbed as an outsider (since he is from Kanpur) and would try to consolidate the cadre vote. Interestingly, before switching over to the saffron camp, Rawat has twice been elected as BSP candidate from Misrikh in 2004 and 2009. During the 2022 assembly elections, BJP won all the five seats while BSP could not finish second in any of the five constituencies.
A mixed bag for saffron
Though BJP still enjoys considerable support, unlike previous elections, it might not be a cakewalk for the saffron party as voters give a mixed reaction on the party’s prospects.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s rally on Tuesday had some impact on voters. Local traders in Neemsar said that the number of tourists and business opportunities had increased ever since Ram temple was opened in Ayodhya. A lot of families from other states coming to Ayodhya have been visiting Neemsar as well.
“The BJP govt has shown strong commitment for religious tourism. The makeover of Ayodhya and Mirzapur (Vindhyavasini corridor) under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s watch has been witnessed by everybody. Yogi has been saying that the focus would now be on Neemsar,” said Shiv Prakash Mishra (56) from Chawan, a village dominated by upper caste.
Yogi’s assurance to provide four-lane connectivity, helicopter service, electric bus service and makeover of Lalita Mata Mandir, which has a lot of scope for religious tourism, rings a bell with lower caste members as well.
However, there are a few issues which have left voters apprehensive.
“We have been hearing that if BJP comes to power, it will snatch away reservation which is being provided to Dalits. I do not know BJP’s intention as it has not clearly said what it would do after forming the govt again. A sense of insecurity is palpable among ‘bahujans’,” said Baijnath Raidas from Amkherwa village who works as a help in a mango orchard. “Finding a farm labourer is getting increasingly difficult with time and the ones who get ready to work during harvest are demanding Rs 300- 400 a day. This reflects growing inflation. It will not be easy for BJP this time,” said Kalicharaj Rajvanshi from Kohrava village.
Anun Kumar Maurya (25) of Ambkerwa village near Naimish Dham is disappointed over cancellation of police recruitment drive due to paper leak. “A limited number of jobs are available for youths. If 80 out of 100 youths do not find jobs, they will always complain about unemployment. We have enough to survive in the village but our expenses would go up substantially if we move to a city,” said Maurya.
Poll dynamics
Though any wave in favour of Narendra Modi is not evident, the rural population of Misrikh is not unhappy with the present dispensation either.
Supporters of Sangita have been unable to corner Rawat over local issues and are instead confident that voters in Machhrehta (Rajvanshi family is from the same place) and other Muslim dominated pockets within Sandila, Bilgram and Mallawan would vote en masse for Akhilesh Yadav.
The party office in Misrikh is abuzz with activity. Gearing up for the day’s schedule, Mohd Yusuf (65) from Nibha village in Gondlamau block, draped in saffron ‘gamchha’ and BJP party cap over his head, was ready to get on the convoy of motor vehicles. “I have been associated with the local MLA for the last 15 years. I have a lot of expectations from BJP. I do not own any land and need financial assistance to sustain myself,” said Yusuf, adding he would convince minority voters to look at the bigger picture. Barely 300 metres away, workers of Samajwadi Party were getting their motor vehicles refuelled at a gas station before starting the day’s campaign. Ranjeet, a youth at the wheels of an SUV, said: “Quality of water being drawn through hand pumps is deteriorating. Condition of roads has worsened in the last five years.”
One of the common grouses in the local community was the absence of industry and economic activity.

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