Deoria: BJP veteran Kalraj Mishra, whose candidature from here almost brew a storm in the party, has an onerous task of emerging victorious from this seat which his party has won only twice.
However, Mishra exudes confidence of a big victory and says "everyone is working hard as a unit to achieve this goal".
BJP had won this seat last time in 1999 when Prakash Mani Tripathi was elected but he lost subsequent elections in 2004 (to Mohan Singh of Samajwadi Party) and 2009 (to Gorakh Prasad Jaiswal of Bahujan Samaj Party).
This time BJP nominated Mishra, a sitting MLA from Lucknow East, over Tripathi and former state president Surya Pratap Shahi, resulting in protests from their camps and local workers, some of whom also threatened self-immolation.
Unfazed by the initial dissatisfaction among local workers and protests, 73-year-old Mishra says, "I am hundred and one per cent confident of winning. The question is not about victory or defeat but about the margin of victory. Victory margin could be one lakh, one and a half lakh or more than that too," he told PTI in an interview.
"There is nothing like dissatisfaction. We are all working together and those who had left have also come back," he says.
He is facing Niyaz Khan of Bahujan Samajwadi Party, Sabha Kunwar Kushwaha of Congress and Baleshwar Yadav of Samajwadi Party, among other contestants.
Apart from BJP, all the other parties have chosen either Muslim or backward community candidates but Mishra, a Brahmin, is confident of getting Dalit and backward votes. Polling will be held tomorrow in Deoria which has nearly 16 lakh voters.
"The barrier of caste has been broken for me here. The best thing is not only upper castes like Rajputs, Brahmins and Vaishyas are voting for me, I am getting votes of Dalits and backward classes like Chouhans, Kushwahas, Prajapatis and Yadavs as well. Yadavs do not want to waste their votes this time, hence they have made up their mind to support BJP," claims the former Rajya Sabha member.
"BJP could not win here after 1999 but this time we are regaining this seat by a bigger margin," he adds.
When asked about the local issues in Deoria, he says his priority will be better infrastructure and uplifting the condition of farmers.
"Sugarcane mills are closed here and condition of farmers is gloomy. Lack of infrastructure is another issue which will be my priority," he says.
Mishra claims BJP will win more than 50 of the 80 seats in
Uttar Pradesh riding on the (Narendra) `Modi wave`. "The party will be benefited by Modi wave for sure. SP and BSP will have their worst ever performances in this Lok Sabha elections. BJP will win more than 50 seats in the state."
According to him, "People are unhappy with the bad governance of SP government in Uttar Pradesh. They have already sidelined Congress and as far as BSP is concerned, I don`t think people trust them. So, people of Uttar Pradesh trust only BJP and Modi."
Asked if people are voting for BJP or Modi, he replies, "BJP has declared Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, so it is natural that this election is being contested under his leadership. Voting for BJP or for Modi is the same thing."
On the comparison between Modi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he says they are two different personalities.
"Vajpayeeji had a different aura while Modi has developed acceptability among people. There is a notion in general public that Modi, who belongs to a backward class, has reached this far on his own. He is going to be the next prime minister and an efficient one. People get attracted by his life story and there is a strong Modi wave," he says.