'Tele' Ram Ke Naam? BJP Candidate Arun Govil Faces Tough Competition In Meerut In Lok Sabha Election 2024

'Tele' Ram Ke Naam? BJP Candidate Arun Govil Faces Tough Competition In Meerut In Lok Sabha Election 2024

The BJP's decision to pick Arun Govil, famed for his portrayal of Lord Ram in the television series "Ramayana", for Meerut has proven to be a gamble fraught with challenges.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Monday, April 22, 2024, 11:09 AM IST
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The political landscape in Meerut is experiencing a seismic shift as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces electoral challenges ahead of the upcoming elections. Initially seen as a strategic move, the decision to replace three-term MP Rajendra Agarwal with Arun Govil, famed for his portrayal of Lord Ram in the television series "Ramayana", has proven to be a gamble fraught with challenges.

BJP navigating treacherous path

The BJP's expectation was that Govil's association with the revered figure of Lord Ram would resonate strongly in Meerut, especially following the construction of the Ram Mandir and the party's campaign centered around the deity. However, as the electoral fervour grips Meerut, it has become apparent that the BJP is navigating a treacherous path.

One significant development is the absence of a Muslim candidate in the opposition's roster, despite Muslims comprising 36 per cent of the population in the constituency. This departure from previous elections, characterised by religious polarisation, sees all major political parties, including the Congress-SP alliance and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), fielding Hindu candidates, thereby diluting the potential for such polarisation.

Meerut's electoral dynamics

The electoral dynamics in Meerut are marked by intriguing nuances, as historical data reveals narrow margins of victory for the BJP in previous elections. The SP-Congress alliance is pinning its hopes on a Dalit candidate, Sunita Verma, to capitalise on the Dalit-Muslim demographic, while the BSP has fielded Devvrat Tyagi, representing the upper caste. The strategic importance of the Dalit-Muslim demographic, constituting approximately 50 per cent of the electorate in Meerut, is highlighted by political analysts.

Sunita Verma, backed by her husband Yogesh, a former Samajwadi Party MLA, and her own tenure as Meerut's mayor, is leveraging this alliance to the SP's advantage. In past elections, the polarissation of the electorate played a significant role in determining the outcome. For instance, in 2019, Yaqoob Qureshi, part of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance, narrowly lost by less than 5,000 votes, with his status as the sole Muslim candidate contributing significantly to the outcome.

Absence of Muslim candidates in Meerut

Candidate selection has emerged as a critical factor in electoral outcomes. The absence of Muslim candidates from both the SP and the BSP lists in recent elections has infused a new variable in the contest. The BSP's decision to field a Tyagi candidate has fostered solidarity within the Tyagi community, emphasising the enduring influence of caste affiliations in the electoral calculus.

Despite the BJP's emphasis on development and infrastructure projects, concerns persist over issues such as infrastructure expansion and caste dynamics. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's rallies in Meerut, invoking Lord Ram, indicate the BJP's efforts to rally support, particularly in light of Govil's candidacy.

Diverse opinions among voters

In Meerut's diverse streets, divergent opinions among voters reflect the complexity of the political terrain. While some commend the work of incumbent MP Rajendra Agarwal, others voice apprehensions over the BJP's decision to alter its candidate.

The polling in Meerut is scheduled for April 26, with the outcome likely to be influenced by various factors, including candidate selection, demographic considerations, and the electorate's perception of the parties' performance and promises.

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