Uttar Pradesh 2017

First phase of polling in U.P. today

An official demonstrates the functioning of Electronic Voting Machines to poll officers in Mirzapur on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

It’s a crucial day for Uttar Pradesh politics on Saturday as the State will see the first phase of Assembly elections in 73 seats in 15 districts.

Most of the constituencies going to the polls fall in the communally sensitive western U.P., including the riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar-Shamli and cities which continue to be on the boil and see repeated communal clashes like Meerut, Kairana, Mathura, Agra, Bulandshahr and Aligarh.

Saturday will also be the ultimate test of political strategies adopted by the BJP, BSP, SP-Congress alliance and the RLD to woo the voters.

The BJP had won just 11 of the 73 seats in the last Assembly polls, but in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it saw a complete swing in its favour and won all 15 seats from the 15 districts.

Hindutva & development

This time the BJP is trying to appeal to Hindu voters by offering a mixture of Hindutva and development through promises such as shutting down of mechanised slaughter houses, forming “anti-exodus task force” to stop alleged “departure of Hindus from Kairana”, forming “anti-romeo” squads and promising to build the Ram temple.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the star campaigner of the BJP, has been harping on the “deteriorating law and order in Akhilesh raj, lack of safety for women, and failure of the government to do enough for farmers and youths”, the other party leaders have been making news with their controversial statements.

The BJP fielded its Hindutva face, Yogi Adityanath, as its campaigner who repeatedly talked about alleged “victimisation” of the Hindus. In all his election meetings in western U.P., Mr. Adityanath said that western U.P., where Muslims constitute 25 per cent of the population, is “being turned into Kashmir” allegedly by forcing the Hindus to migrate from different towns.

Suresh Rana, the president of the BJP’s State unit and also the party’s candidate from Thana Bhawan, was booked for saying that “there will be curfew in Deoband and Kairana if he wins.”

Similarly, Sangeet Som, the sitting MLA from Sardhana who is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, screened a documentary on the riots which hailed him as a “hero of the Hindus.”

The party has tried to woo the farmers, who form the biggest vote bank in the agrarian region, by promising to waive loans of small farmers, implement several lucrative schemes for them and get sugarcane arrears paid within two weeks of coming to power in the State.

The first phase would also be crucial for BSP supremo Mayawati who tried to experiment yet again with the Dalit-Muslim combination by fielding the largest number of Muslim candidates while being assured of getting the consolidated Jatav votes for the party.

A major thrust of Ms. Mayawati’s campaign, besides highlighting the SP’s “failure to maintain law and order and allow thousands of communal riots in the State”, is that only she can “prevent the BJP from coming to power in the State.”

The SP-Congress alliance has projected the “vikas (development)” aspect of the Akhilesh Yadav government and highlighted the negatives and ill-effects of demonetisation and the troubles it has given to the common public.

The alliance has tried to woo Muslim voters by repeatedly projecting itself as the only political formation which can stop the BJP. The SP-Congress joint rallies saw display of camaraderie between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and SP’s chief Akhilesh Yadav.

The districts which are going to polls in the first phase are Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Firozabad, Etah and Kasganj.

A total of 839 candidates are trying their luck in the 73 seats. The Election Commission has identified several booths as sensitive and elaborate security arrangements have been made.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 6:24:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-2017/First-phase-of-polling-in-U.P.-today/article17285736.ece

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