In the seat of Lord Ram, real life issues win the day in 2024 LS polls, Awadesh Prasad wins by 54, 567 votes

SP Dalit leader who triumphed over BJP in Ayodhya a non-reserved constituency brought back memories of 1989 when a CPI candidate, Mitrasen Yadav had defied the polarised frenzy of the LK Advani-led rath yatra

Awadesh Prasad, known to social movements is not just the only Dalit candidate to win from a non-reserved constituency in UP.  Prasad is one of the SP’s founder members and a nine-time MLA who was even jailed during Emergency. The leader of the Samajwadi Party, a friend of social movements in the state snatched the seat from the dominant Bharatiya Janata {arty (BJP) who has made Ayodhya (Faizabad) its politico-religious plank over decades, with the Modi 2.0 regime taking this to a whipped up frenzy pre-elections since January 22, 2024.

Apart from “Samvidhan Bachao”, a key plank developed by Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party (SP) this time round, was manifest in the party’s efforts to expand beyond its Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) base through the PDA — Pichde (backward classes or OBCs), Dalits, Alpasankhyak (minorities) — strategy and slogan. Awadesh Yadav was key to this expansion and is expected to play a strategic role in future.

The Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, consecrated by Modi in January, marked the completion of one of the Sangh Parivar’s ideological goals though the event was dominant much more by a Modi than the Sangh. Timed for months before the general elections in a rather brazen mixing of religion with polls, this plank had been expected to boost the BJP’s poll prospects. The Indian people surprised poll pundits again as the party took a big hit in Uttar Pradesh, with its tally almost halved, one of its most prominent losses was in the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency of which Ayodhya is a part.

This Samajwadi Party leader, an old associate of the wily Mulayam Singh Yadav who snatched the prestigious seat from the BJP is the old warhorse MLA Awadhesh Prasad who was the only candidate from a Dalit community to win from a non-reserved constituency. Prasad rode to a much hailed poll victory defeating the BJP’s two-time sitting MP Lallu Singh by 54,567 votes, riding on Dalit, Minority and Backward votes that earlier used to go to the Congress in Faizabad.

The 77-year-old nine-time MLA and now first-time MP, who is from the Pasi community, is among the founder members of the SP and has been by founder Mulayam Singh Yadav’s side starting in 1974. Awadhesh Prasad, several times elected from MLA from the Milkipur assembly, secured a sensational victory by a significant margin of votes

Awadhesh Prasad’s political journey began in 1977 when he won his first assembly election from the Sohawal assembly seat in Ayodhya district. Thereafter, he won assembly polls in 1985, 1989, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2007, and 2012.

With this victory, the memories of 1989 polls revived as when –in the midst of the frenzy generated by LK Advani’s rath yatra, Mitrasen Yadav of CPI won the elections amidst the temple movement.

Who is Awadesh Prasad?

A law graduate from the Lucknow University, Prasad entered active politics early, at the age of 21. He joined the Bharatiya Kranti Dal led by former PM Chaudhary Charan Singh, whom he considers his “political father”, and contested his first Assembly election from Sohawal in Ayodhya district in 1974.

During the 18 month long Emergency, Prasad served as the Faizabad district co-convener of the anti-Emergency Sangharsh Samiti and was arrested. While in jail, his mother passed away and he failed to get parole to attend her last rites. After the Emergency, he quit law to become a full-time politician. In 1981,

Awadesh Yadav joins the SP

It was after the Janata Party splintered that Awadhesh Prasad stayed with Mulayam as he launched the SP in 1992. Prasad was appointed the party’s national secretary and member of its central parliamentary board. Later, he was promoted to the position of SP national general secretary, a post in which he is serving his fourth term.

Though this parliamentary election is the first time he has won, he unsuccessfully contested once before in 1996 from the Akbarpur Lok Sabha constituency — this seat used to exist in the erstwhile Faizabad district and is not the same as the current Akbarpur parliamentary seat in Kanpur Dehat. Prasad, however, had more luck in the Assembly elections and to date lost only twice in nine contests — in 1991, when he was the Janata Party candidate from Sohawal and in 2017, when he fought as an SP nominee from Milkipur.



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