Banking again on their votes

Banking again on their votes

Poorvanchalis in capital are 'game changers'

About 40 percent of Delhi’s population is from Poorvanchal – eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. This significant vote bank resides across Delhi but a majority of Poorvanchalis are in East Delhi, North-East Delhi, North-West Delhi and West Delhi parliamentary constituencies. 

For the past 15 years, they were considered as loyal Congress voters. But with the crushing defeat of the party in the last Assembly elections, the community signalled its dissatisfaction with the Congress. Currently, most of the Assembly segments dominated by Poorvachalis have MLAs from Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party.

Sitting MP and Congress candidate from West Delhi parliamentary constituency Mahabal Mishra is a Poorvanchali. The BJP has also fielded Bhojpuri actor-singer Manoj Tiwari from North-East Delhi constituency.
 In last Assembly elections, eight Poorvanchali candidates from AAP won the elections. So did two Poorvanchali candidates fielded by the BJP. 

From slums to high-rises

From slums of North-West Delhi to the high-rise apartments of East Delhi, Poorvanchalis are everywhere. The politicians consider them as game changers because of their polarised pattern of voting. They are a closely knit community, and most of them know each other through the names of their villages back home. A large number of Poorvanchalis live in unauthorised colonies – BJP, Congress and AAP are particularly eyeing this vote bank. 

While Congress claims it is the party which regularised unauthorised colonies, the BJP is counters it with visions of  better development in Modi Raj in Gujarat.  There are a large number of Poorvanchalis in Gujarat also.

But it is AAP which claimed a significant portion of Poorvanchali votes in the last Assembly elections. Despite recent surveys showing a steep decline in AAP fortunes, the eight Poorvanchali MLAs from the party appear to be attracting voters from the community for the coming Lok Sabha elections as well. 

Congress is relying on Mishra to garner votes from the community, but its leaders are worried because of the influnce wielded by BJP's Manoj Tiwari. A senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, admitted that Tiwari is a big threat for the party as he is a superstar for Poorvanchalis – and is far more famous in Delhi than Mishra or any other Poorvanchali face in Congress. 

Congress, however, is exploring other options to get Poorvanchali votes. The party cites BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s good relations with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackery and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackrey, both allegedly involved in a series of attacks on Poorvanchalis in Mumbai. 

The BJP is also set to counter the Congress offensive with star power. It party has roped in party MP and former Bollywood superstar Shatrughan Sinha, the ‘Bihari Babu’, for campaigning in the city. Party MLA from Sasaram in Bihar Rameshwar Chaurasia, has also been deployed as a key coordinator for primary members from Poorvanchal. 

Earlier, the BJP and Congress had been competing over declaring a holiday in Delhi on Chhath, the biggest festival of Poorvanchal. Both parties use maximum manpower for cleaning the river banks and providing maximum amenities on the occasion. Their top leaders are deployed at Chhath ghats to woo the community. 

Caste no bar 

The Poorvanchalis votes are not divided in Delhi on the basis of caste. According to a senior Congress leader, the Rajput, Maithil Brahmin and Kayasth castes from Poorvanchal are leading the community in most areas in Delhi. Despite being from different castes the Poorvanchalis  are expected to vote for one party only. 

“The migration of Poorvanchalis was started by these three communities. The Rajputs are the richest among them and they have helped many Poorvanchal residents set up their base in Delhi. The Maithil Brahmins and the Kayasths are the most educated communities among Poorvanchalis, and they are working in a number of government, semi-government and private organisations in Delhi and the NCR.

They have also strengthened the Poorvanchali base in Delhi,” says a senior Congress leader. “The entire Poorvanchal-dominated area votes on the suggestion of their leaders. The voting pattern of all such areas is usually similar,” he adds. 

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