U.P. mandata Uttar pradesh

Moods swing as the BJP and SP await U.P. poll results

Workers prepare sweets, to celebrate the election results, a day before the counting of votes for Assembly polls in five States.

Workers prepare sweets, to celebrate the election results, a day before the counting of votes for Assembly polls in five States. | Photo Credit: PTI

On the eve of crucial Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, there’s an atmosphere of distrust and doubt in the air, with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav raising questions over the electronic voting machines (EVM) and exhorting his party workers to be alert towards any attempts to steal the mandate.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters at Hazratganj and the SP office on Vikramaditya Marg are just 3 km apart, but there is a vast difference in mood between the two. At the BJP office, spokespersons armed with a long list of reasons were trying to outdo each other in making extravagant predictions banking on the “silent voter”.

If the BJP wins, as the exit polls are suggesting, it will be the first time in three decades that an incumbent government would return to power in U.P. “There is a powerful undercurrent in our favour, especially among the women. Even if the man of the family has gone and voted for the SP, they have voted for us. This is true for many Muslim women too,” Rakesh Tripathi, BJP spokesperson said. He claims the BJP will better its 2017 tally of 312 to win 340 seats.

In contrast, at the SP office, there was an atmosphere of heightened vigilance. The tall gates to the party headquarters remained shut, with Mr. Yadav spending the better part of the day there, coordinating with each district-level leader to be alert to possible attempts to “sabotage” the outcome. On Tuesday, the night he had addressed a press conference after SP workers in Varanasi intercepted trucks transporting EVM machines, his message to the party was loud and clear — “do not let the BJP steal the mandate in our favour”. He tweeted: “Treat the counting centers as the “pilgrimage centers of democracy”. Go there and stay there to defeat all ploys by the ruling government to manipulate the results.”

The party’s State president Naresh Uttam Patel has written to the Election Commission of India (EC) demanding a live webcast from the counting centres to ensure complete transparency.

“The BJP in the last five years has done nothing apart from misusing power and systematically dismantling the democratic set-up. Now that the people have cast their votes in our favour, they are trying to tamper with the mandate by devious means. Varanasi ADM (Additional District Magistrate) N. K. Singh has been suspended, which just goes to prove that our suspicion is not misplaced,” former Minister and SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told The Hindu.

If the SP loses this election, it will be the third consecutive defeat under Mr. Yadav’s leadership since he wrested control of the party from his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Yadav. In the 2017 Assembly elections, the SP was down from 224 seats to 47. In 2014, its Lok Sabha tally dipped from 23 seats to five. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, it managed to win five seats again but reported a drop in vote share by 4.24%.

The claims and counterclaims by the two key players in the election has left the man on the street sceptical, too. The “ hawa” or wave, Mohammad Rizwan, a rickshaw puller shuttling between the two headquarters says, was in favour of the Samajwadi Party, but with the EVMs, one doesn’t know. “Ballot boxes were more transparent. Here with the EVMs, how can one be sure that the vote is going to the person you are casting for?” he wondered.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2022 6:10:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/moods-swing-as-the-bjp-and-sp-await-up-poll-results/article65208253.ece