After Varanasi, if there is any other Lok Sabha constituency that has the spotlight fixed on it in Uttar Pradesh, it is the adjoining Chandauli.
Chandauli has a dominant Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population that is second to the OBC population, mainly Yadavs. Muslims also constitute a sizeable population while Brahmins and Thakurs are not in a position to play a decisive role.
Pandey had won the seat in 2014, riding high on the Modi wave. This time he is banking mainly on appeal of government schemes such as Ujjawla, Saubhagya, Swachh Bharat programme, Pradhan Mantri housing schemes and Kisan income support scheme.
BJP workers in the district are armed with a list of beneficiaries and are using this to transcend caste barriers.
Chandauli, incidentally, has been known as a Naxalite-infested district and police atrocities here have been a major reason for resentment.
The Samajwadi Party has fielded Sanjay Chauhan of the Janwadi Party. Sanjay Chauhan belongs to the Lonia community that comes under the OBC category. The idea was apparently to woo non-Yadav voters through the candidate.
The alliance with BSP has already put him in strong position.
The Congress candidate, Shiv Kanya Kushwaha, is the wife of former BSP Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha who was an accused in the NRHM scam. She has her community's sympathy in ample measure and also the support of some other OBC groups like Maurya
Pandey is battling caste arithmetic that does not support him but is hopeful that his constituency's proximity to Varanasi will help him win the second term.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)