According to Election Commission data, Sitarganj constituency has 1.25 lakh voters from diverse backgrounds. A majority of voters are from the Bengali community (50,000), followed by those from Scheduled Castes (14,000), the Tharu community (12,000) and the Sikh community (10,000). The industrial city also has 10,000 Muslim voters.
However, the city’s voting pattern is not always dominated by “community allegiance”, say poll watchers. They cite the results of the 2017 parliamentary elections in which Congress candidate Malti Biswas, from the Bengali community, was beaten by Saurabh Bahuguna of the BJP by a record margin of 28,500 votes.
For the next legislative elections, the BJP has once again bet on Bahuguna, the son of former Prime Minister Vijay Bahuguna. Despite the opposition in power, poll watchers say Bahuguna has a slight advantage in the fight at the moment.
Meanwhile, Congress, hoping to ride the anti-incumbent wave, suffered a setback when two-time MP Sitarganj Narayan Pal, who joined the party in 2012, jumped ship. Pal returned to his former party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and got the seat ticket.
The Congress lined up Navtej Pal Singh who is an elder from the region. However, according to political analysts, Pal’s departure from Congress is likely to reduce the party’s votes.
Speaking to YOU, Saurabh Bahuguna expressed confidence in his prospects. “I kept all the promises I made. Long-awaited infrastructure projects – such as the construction of the Sirsa road bend and that of a bridge over the Sookhi River – have been completed. In addition , an interstate bus station has been built for the first time in the city and a multi-specialty hospital has also been opened.Besides, to better fight against the pandemic, I have allocated Rs 5 crore for improvement of centers community health centers (CHC).
Countering Bahuguna’s claim, Congress candidate Navtej Pal Singh said, “Roads in the region are dilapidated, CSCs lack facilities, unemployment is at an all-time high and the plight of farmers is well known. All the development claims made by the BJP MPs are hollow.”
Meanwhile, BSP’s Narayan Pal alleged he had the “blessings of the locals”. “I will win the seat by a huge margin because people here have faith in me.”
Asked about his reason for leaving Congress, Pal said, “Despite public sentiment in my favour, Congress denied me a seat ticket twice — in 2012 and 2017.”