The battle for the UP begins in the western part of the state, all eyes are on the problems of the farmers, law and order, religion
The election The Commission announced the dates for the upcoming assembly elections in five Indian states on Saturday. Polls in Uttar Pradesh to be held seven phases between February 10 and March 7.
The struggle for political supremacy in the Hindi heart of Uttar Pradesh will begin in the western part of the state. This region, considered one of the most politically sensitive, charged and highly polarized areas, will vote in the initial phase of the elections.
Also in the 2017 parliamentary elections, the electoral battle began in western Uttar Pradesh. That year, the BJP received a decisive mandate in the region and continued that momentum in other parts of the state.
Five years later, the battle in western Uttar Pradesh is unlikely to be any fun for the BJP. All competitors are aware that a good start in “Jaat’s country” will bring them closer to the magic number of 202 at the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on March 10 and, therefore, the fight is expected to be tough and fierce.
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
In the previous Assembly election, the ruling BJP performed well in the region’s 76 seats. BJP won 66 while Samajwadi Party (SP) won four, Bahujan Samaj Party won three, Congress won two, and Rashtriya Lok Dal got their hands on one.
In that election, the SP contested in alliance with Congress but failed to make a substantial mark. Traditionally, the region is considered one of the strongholds of the BSP but even Mayawati is doing badly in 2017.
This time, political alignments have changed and so have the stakes. the The Samajwadi party is fighting in alliance with the RLD of Jayant Chaudhary. Their seat-sharing formula has yet to be announced, but their rallies so far indicate their partnership could give BJP a tough fight in many parts of western Uttar Pradesh.
The uncle of SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav, is also in the running in alliance with the Samajwadi party. It may help Akhilesh Yadav avoid a split in his key vote bank.
The BJP alone will contest most of the seats in this region, as will Congress and BSP.
But there is an important new entrant in the political arena, Asaddudin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM). The party can play an important role in many constituencies, as the Muslim population in this region is around 26 percent.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES ?
Until November 2021, the biggest problem in western Uttar Pradesh was the restlessness of farmers throughout the year. Farmers from all castes and religious bases in the sugarcane belt stood in support of the protest. The general feeling among them was that the government had done nothing to help the farmers and was, moreover, indifferent to the protest in which people had even lost their lives.
It’s no surprise that chief farmer Rakesh Tikait has become a hero. However, after the Center repealed the three contentious farm laws and the farmers withdrew their protest from Delhi’s borders, the BJP got the political respite it needed.
Even though BJP leaders are still uncomfortable discussing the farmers’ protest, they have now found a window to discuss other things, including those that they believe have improved the lives of farmers.
For farmers in western Uttar Pradesh, even after the laws were repealed, three issues remain.
The first is the sugarcane rate which has not been increased by the government led by Yogi Adityanath despite promises.
The second problem is that of stray cattle which destroy crops and make life difficult for the poorest farmers.
And the third is electricity tariffs for farmers in Uttar Pradesh, which are much higher than those in neighboring Haryana and Punjab.
The SP-RLD alliance is trying to score points on the BJP on these issues. Rakesh Tikait, a force to be reckoned with in the region, also supports them.
Law and order
But the BJP also has its strengths. CM Yogi Adityanath started his campaign in the Kairana region, from where traders had migrated out of the state under the previous government due to the poor law and order situation.
At all his gatherings, CM Yogi called for an improvement in the public order situation in the state. Last week, during its visit to Deoband in Saharanpur district, the BJP coined a new slogan: âKaam Bhi, Lagaam Bhiâ (Working with crime control).
The BJP also uses the The Ayodhya Ram temple problem to reap Hindu support while further promising that Kashi and Mathura’s controversial issues will also be settled soon.
In previous elections, the BJP made the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots a big political issue. This proved to be beneficial for the party and even Jaats voted en masse for the BJP in 2017.
This time the opposition is trying to win over the Jaat-Muslim population, but it remains to be seen if that will work as mistrust between the communities is not yet a thing of the past.
Besides the BJP and SP-RLD combination, other parties are trying to win over voters by making promises on different fronts.
At a rally in Moradabad, the leader of the Congress Priyanka Gandhi Vadra promised more performance to women and lambasted the SP-RLD and BJP for not keeping their promises when the electorate gave them the opportunity.
For the BSP, a large part of the Dalit voters, in particular the Jatavs, are seen as a bank of committed votes. However, the younger generation now seems to be turning to alternative options like Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan. There is also speculation about Mayawati’s absence ahead of the election.
Lately, Asaduddin Owaisi has been working hard to make a name for himself in the region and draw crowds to his gatherings. These crowds consist mainly of young people who want Muslim leadership in the region. While some believe Owaisi’s presence is a BJP ploy to divide Muslim votes, others believe he should stand a chance.
WILL WESTERN UP CREATE A PRECEDENT FOR THE REST OF STATE?
Bearing in mind that Uttar Pradesh is a huge state in which each region has different demographics and issues, it cannot be said with certainty that the specific policy of western Uttar Pradesh will have a direct impact on the result of the seven electoral phases of a month.
But one thing is clear: the party that has a head start in western Uttar Pradesh will be in line for the other phases. The political mood in this region will affect the morale of each party and set the broad program for the subsequent stages of the election.
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