Eastern UP holds particular significance for the BJP. Out of 18 Lok Sabha constituencies of Eastern UP, BJP had won all in 2014 Parliamentary elections except for Azamgarh that went to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Kushinagar is important for Buddhists for it is believed to be the place where Buddha achieved nirvana and monks are expected to attend the rally.
On November 14, the PM had addressed a public meeting in eastern UP’s Ghazipur district where he had also laid various infrastructure development projects while recalling the instance of a Parliament session of 1962 when Ghazipur MP Vishwanath had spoke about the poverty in eastern UP.
Before Ghazipuir, PM was in Gorakhpur on July 22 to address a public meeting after laying foundation of reopening of a fertilizer factory and a new 700-bed AIIMS with an expenditure of more than Rs 1000 crore. He had also announced national highways from Sanauli to Gorakhpur (Rs 570 crore), Indo-Nepal border to Rudauli (Rs 550 crore) and Gorakhpur-Varanasi (Rs 650 crore) to be developed.
Earlier on May 1, Modi had launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana (PMUY) in Ballia district which has the target to provide LPG connections to nearly 10,000 to 50000 households in each Lok Sabha constituency.
On October 24, PM had visited Varanasi to lay foundation stone of City Gas Distribution Project and dedicating DLW expansion. That day, Government of India had given an advertisement in media with message -‘Viksit Purvanchal— Samridha Bharat’.
In the cabinet expansion on July 5, Mirzapur MP Anupriya Patel and Chandauli MP Mahendra Nath Pandey were inducted in the government and now there are four ministers from the region while Prime Minister himself is from Varanasi. Deoria MP Kalraj Mishra and Ghazipur MP Manoj Sinha were already there in the cabinet.
Among the 403 assembly segments of UP, more than 100 constituencies fall in eastern UP but the BJP has only a dozen MLAs from the region. Most of the seats were won by Samajwadi Party (SP) in 2012 Assembly polls with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) coming in second. In Gorakhpur region—in which Kushinagar falls— comprises of 62 Assembly seats. BJP had won eight in 2012. There are more than a dozen seats in the region where BJP has never won in the history of elections.
In Ballia district, BJP has one MLA while SP has five seats. BJP has started two of its ongoing four Parivartan Yatras-from Ballia and Sonbhadra-both in eastern UP.
BJP’s concern for eastern UP may be also because Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (U) president Nitish Kumar has launched his Uttar Pradesh Assembly election campaign from Varanasi region by addressing a state level convention of the party workers on May 12. Nitish earlier in February had addressed a gathering of backward castes and dalits in Ghazipur district.
BJP has already announced alliance with Apna Dal and Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party to get hold of OBC and Dalit votes of the region.
BJP UP chief spokesperson Hridya Narain Dixit said the party was not giving special attention to eastern UP with aim of getting votes in the upcoming assembly elections, but that the region remained neglected in development for over decades.