Lok Sabha Elections: Is the kaleen rolling out for Apna Dal’s Anupriya didi in Mirzapur season 3?

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Mirzapur, a district made famous by an OTT series, has never seen an incumbent MP win a third term. Anupriya Patel, the sitting MP since 2014 from Apna Dal (Sonelal) and a part of the NDA, is determined to break this streak. At 43, she faces a strong challenge from Ramesh Chand Bind, a 50-year-old who switched from BJP to SP after being denied a ticket in his home constituency, Bhadohi.

The Mirzapur parliamentary seat includes five assembly segments: Chhanbey, Mirzapur, Majhawan, Chunar, and Marihaan.

While the fictional character “Kaleen Bhaiya” belongs to the reel world, real-life carpet traders in the region are looking for a representative who can address their business issues. Rajesh Kumar, vice-president of the All India Carpet Manufacturers’ Association, noted that although the “one district, one product” scheme has helped build the Bhadohi-Mirzapur carpet brand, the industry still lacks adequate support. He told TOI that recent years have seen the removal of incentives and the introduction of more regulations, which have hurt the business.

Ramesh Chand Bind faces a significant challenge in attracting voters beyond his base of Muslims, Yadavs, and Binds, which together account for about five lakh votes. Despite his political experience—having served as BSP MLA from Majhawan for three consecutive terms (2002, 2007, and 2012)—Bind has faced controversies for making offensive remarks against upper castes.

Water: A key issue in Mirzapur
In Mirzapur, the driest region in Uttar Pradesh, water scarcity—both for drinking and agricultural use—has become a central election issue. Despite being located near the Ganga, farmers in Mirzapur depend heavily on monsoon-fed dams and reservoirs for their water needs. The region’s red sandstone and rocky terrain make drilling borewells a challenging task.

The reservoir’s sluice gates, which provide irrigation to over three dozen villages in the Marihaan sub-division, were last opened during the Rabi season of 2022. Currently, the canal starting from these gates has dried up, and its bed is now covered with algae.

Baba Yadav, a local resident and worker for the Apna Dal (Sonelal) faction, highlighted the struggles faced by the community. “For the past two years, we have faced difficulties every cropping season as no water flows through the canal. In the remote areas of Mirzapur, every family relies on agriculture for their livelihood. Ahead of the paddy cultivation in January and February, the power supply was also irregular, preventing the operation of borewells,” he told TOI.

Yadav also mentioned that he has been unable to communicate these issues to the party leadership due to a lack of access.

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Caste dynamics in Mirzapur
In Mirzapur, caste plays a significant role in elections, with Scheduled Caste (SC) voters comprising 26% of the 19 lakh electorate. Among them, Jatavs, who have traditionally supported the BSP, form the majority. The BSP has fielded Manish Kumar Tripathi for this seat. Additionally, the district has a higher number of Kol voters compared to Pasis.

Other Backward Classes (OBCs), particularly Patels, make up the largest group in the district and are expected to support Anupriya Patel for a third term.

Rajesh Patel, a businessman from the Rajgarh development block in Chunar said, “I will support Anupriya because she is our community leader and a minister. Her margin may drop, but she will win.”

However, he also expressed concerns, “No action was taken when we needed water and electricity for our crops in January and February. The water crisis is ongoing, and we hope Anupriya will find a permanent solution in her third term.”

Supporting SP’s Ramesh Chand Bind, Mithlesh Prajapati from Danti village in Majhawan recalled, “Bulldozers demolished houses of 40 rural families in Danti in January last year. Nobody listened to our pleas, and it’s time to teach the local MLA and MP a lesson.”

The local administration had cleared the land in Danti for a proposed university, but the project was later moved to Deori Kalan.

The underdog
In Mirzapur, unlike in Kaushambi, Fatehpur, and parts of Bundelkhand where Patels are divided between Apna Dal (S) and its rival faction Apna Dal (Kamerawadi), the community remains united behind Anupriya Patel. However, Apna Dal (K) is also making a significant effort by fielding 71-year-old Daulat Ram Patel, a retired maths professor, former pradhan, and a socialist with ties to both SP and Congress.

Daulat Ram Patel has been a key figure in creating employment opportunities for youths in Chunar through his company that converts biomass into biofuels. Alongside BSP’s Brahmin candidate Manish Kumar Tripathi, Daulat Ram Patel could potentially erode Anupriya’s vote base.

Urban voters
Urban voters in Mirzapur see the ongoing work on the Vindhyavasini shrine corridor, proposed investment projects, and improved connectivity through national highways as positive developments likely to benefit the BJP-Apna Dal (S) alliance. Shyam Kumar Dubey, who runs a battery shop near the Mirzapur railway station, commented, “You should have seen the railway station earlier to realise what has changed. The only issue I can recall is the frequent closure of the Lal Bahadur Shastri bridge (pucca pul) over the Ganga for repairs over the past three years.”

Inputs from TOI

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