UP Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Maneka Gandhi Ploughs Lone Furrow In Sultanpur

UP Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Maneka Gandhi Ploughs Lone Furrow In Sultanpur

Maneka, who clinched a victory here in 2019, submitted her nomination on May 2. She was joined by NDA allies, including NISHAD Party president Dr. Sanjay Nishad and Apna Dal leader Ashish Patel.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 11:22 AM IST
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Maneka Gandhi | Instagram

Sultanpur: The BJP’s decision to withhold a ticket for Varun Gandhi has cast the spotlight on his mother, Maneka Gandhi, the party’s candidate from Sultanpur.

Maneka, who clinched a victory here in 2019, submitted her nomination on May 2. She was joined by NDA allies, including NISHAD Party president Dr. Sanjay Nishad and Apna Dal leader Ashish Patel. Notably, BJP leaders were missing.

Focus On Grassroots Connections

In the lead-up to the May 25 election in the sixth phase, Menaka Gandhi has been conspicuously solo in her campaign efforts. Despite the absence of BJP’s star campaigners, she has not sought their support, focusing instead on grassroots connections with the electorate. She doesn’t rely on rallies by the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister to energize voters. She’s engaging directly with people at the grassroots level and has already visited nearly 100 out of 1,200-gram panchayats in the Awadh region, a senior party member revealed.

Insiders report that pradhans from over 900-gram sabhas are in direct contact with Menaka, forming the cornerstone of her campaign strategy. By avoiding high-profile campaigners, she aims to sidestep the divisive politics that could be detrimental.

Menaka is highlighting her achievements over the past five years and appealing across caste and community lines. While she is confident in her approach, there is anticipation that BJP workers will support UP cabinet minister Sanjay Nishad's campaigns in Sultanpur, especially given SP’s nomination of Ram Bhual Nishad, who is targeting traditional Nishad voters.

Senior BJP Leader Praises Maneka Gandhi's Solo Strategy

A senior BJP leader praised Menaka's solo strategy, noting that her emotional connection with voters, bolstered by Varun Gandhi's support, has strengthened her grassroots appeal, making her a formidable candidate.

Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Ram Bhual Nishad brings experience from both the BJP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Having won twice on a BSP ticket and served as a Minister of State, he poses a significant challenge.

The BSP's candidate, Udraj Verma, a Kurmi caste member and first-time District Panchayat member, aims to capture the BJP's Kurmi and Nishad vote banks. Historically, the Congress has claimed victory in Sultanpur nine times, while the BJP has won five times.

The Contest In Sultanpur

In 2019, Menaka Gandhi, contesting in Sultanpur, narrowly defeated the SP-BSP alliance candidate Chandrabhadra Singh Sonu by a margin of 14,526 votes. This year, Sonu Singh's low profile has sparked speculation about his indirect support for the BJP. BJP's previous victories in Sultanpur have coincided with major political waves, such as the Ram wave (1991-1998) and the Modi wave (2014, 2019).

Maneka's current advantage is the lack of a strong opposition wave against her. She emphasizes her role in implementing government schemes and her dedication to serving all constituents regardless of caste, class, or religion.

Opposition leaders are expected to intensify their campaigns in the Awadh region. If they can penetrate the BJP's voter base among backward, extremely backward, and Dalit communities, the results could be unpredictable. The SP and BSP must first identify which party will emerge as the primary challenger to Menaka Gandhi. Sultanpur is poised for a closely contested election.

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