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UP polls: Not just BJP-SP race, others matter too

Lucknow, Jan 10 (PTI) With their high-decibel campaigns so far, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party may appear to be locked in a direct fight in Uttar Pradesh. But others threaten to open up the field a bit.

Mayawati has said it would be a mistake to say that her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is out of the race in the assembly elections. And led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress hopes to upset the balance with its women-centric agenda.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other BJP leaders have been targeting Akhilesh Yadav, furthering the impression that they regard his SP as the main challenger.

Banking on the Hindutva plus development plank, the Bharatiya Janata Party has itself crafted an alliance with some Other Backward Class parties for a comeback bid in a state where no party has won two consecutive elections over the past 35 years.

The BJP has allied with the Apna Dal (Sonelal) and the Nishad party, a combination of backward castes.

Akhilesh Yadav is trying to upset the BJP with the help of a rainbow coalition, which includes Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party — a former ally of the BJP in UP — the Rashtriya Lok Dal and uncle Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).

It is yet to be seen if Priyanka Gandhi’s women card — she has even promised that 40 per cent of party tickets will go to women — would outplay the caste and communal calculations of the main players.

After Rahul Gandhi lost the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from the family bastion of Amethi, the party faces a big challenge of winning from the five assembly segments in Rae Bareli — party president Sonia Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency.

Though the BSP is not much visible on the ground or digital platforms so far, it support base lies among the Dalits who form about 20 percent of the state’s population. The 403-member UP house has 86 reserved seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

With the UP polls considered crucial for the general elections in 2024, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party and Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are also trying to expand their political presence in the populous state.

The poll outcome will also have a bearing on the Presidential elections in July. Before that 73 Rajya Sabha members would have retired, including 11 from UP.

Buoyed by the massive assembly election victory in home state West Bengal last year, the Trinamool Congress is vying the Congress space in the opposition and contesting the polls in Goa and Manipur.

In UP, however, Mamata Banerjee’s party has indicated that it would not take the plunge and instead help Akhilesh Yadav.

NDA allies Janata Dal (United), Hindustani Awam Morcha of former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and Vikassheel Insaan Party of Bihar minister Mukesh Sahni are trying to get the BJP share some seats.

UP BJP spokesperson Manish Shukla predicted that the ruling party will improve upon the tally of 325 seats its coalition won in the 2017 assembly polls.

Asked if this was possible when one of its partners, Om Prakash Rajbhar, has parted ways, Shukla said the BJP led in over 300 assembly segments in 2019 Lok Sabha elections even when the ally did not cooperate.

“This was despite the SP, the BSP and the RLD coming together,” he told PTI.

In the 2017 assembly polls, the SP won 49 seats, BSP 19, Apna Dal (Sonelal) 9, Congress 7 and SBSP 4.

There are also three independents, two unattached MLAs and one MLA each from the RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal) and the Nishad party in the House.

While the BJP predicts an “overwhelming” victory again for itself, the opposition parties claim that the situation has changed.

“There is huge anger among people over a number of issues, including poor Covid management, price rise, joblessness and poor law and order, “ SP MLC from Varanasi Ashutosh Sinha told PTI.

He claimed that the BJP instead is trying to divert attention towards “trivial issues”.

“However, the people of the state will not allow the BJP plans to succeed this time,” he said.

Akhilesh Yadav said there will be “badlaav” (change), an “inquilab” (revolution) on March 10, when the counting of votes takes place.

But Mayawati has dismissed his claim, reminding him of a 2007 opinion poll which predicted a direct SP-BJP contest but it was her BSP that formed the government. PTI NAV SNS ASH ASH

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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