Uttar Pradesh Electoral Scene
Though the entry of Priyanka Gandhi has upped the Congress prospects in Uttar Pradesh, there seems to be an internal understanding between the Congress and the SP-BSP-RLD alliance not to split votes of traditional voters.
By Akhilesh Tripathi
The BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP) is in for trouble in Uttar Pradesh as the grand alliance of Samajwadi Party (SP), BahujanSamaj Party (BSP) and the RashtriyaLok Dal (RLD) is giving it a tough time in most constituencies across all regions of the vast state. In 2014, these parties had fought against the BJP separately giving it a huge advantage. The BJP won 73 of the 80 seats, leaving only two (Amethi and Rae Bareli) and five for the SP. Most of these seats had candidates from the families that dominate those political parties.
30 Seats at Stake
Thirty seats of western region which include Baghpat, Bijnore, Fatehpur, Meerut, Saharanpur, Agra, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Fatehpur Sikri, Nagina, Hathras, Aligarh, Mathura, Muradabad, Sambhal, Mathura, Bareli, Rampur, Badayun, Aonla, Pilibhit, Etah and Firozabad may see a swing of fortunes for the contestants. These constituencies are predominantly inhabited by Jats, Gujjar, Muslims, Yadavs and Maurya communities. The three parties realized their joint potential when they came together to fight the byelections in Gorakhpur, Bulandshahar and Phulpur early last year. This initiated a dialogue between Mr.AkhileshYadav of SP, Mayawati of BSP and Ajit Singh of the RLD. A reckoning of the 2014 results shows that the BJP had won 30 seats by a margin ranging from five to ten thousand votes. By merely fielding a single candidate by the opposition parties, the anger against misrule of the BJP at the Centre and the State could be tapped for dislodging the BJP. Additionally, the farmers have totally turned against the BJP due to unremunerative prices for their produce. The party governments both at Delhi and Lucknow could not address the issue of arrears of sugarcane growers. This has only added the weight of incumbency.
The refusal to take the Congress into alliance and the entry of Priyanka Gandhi has, of course, rendered the fight triangular. But there seems to be an internal understanding between the Congress and the alliance partners. Consequently, the Congress has not fielded Muslim candidates in Muslim-dominated constituencies, lest the Muslim votes remain intact. Similarly, it has fielded Brahmin or uppercaste candidates wherever the BJP has nominated candidates from these communities. This strategy seeks to erode the BJP’s advantage. The NyuntamAayYojana(NYAY) with a promise of Rs. 6,000 for each farmer every month, is also luring away farmers from the BJP. Congress has not fielded candidates against Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri and AkhileshYadav in Azamgarh. It has been reciprocated by the alliance leaving Amethi and Rae Bareli for Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.
However, for the BJP the greatest handicap is that it has virtually no face to put up before the electorate. Ruling the Centre as well as the State, it is virtually answerless for its follies like demonetization, GST and failure to clean up river Ganga. Killing of hundreds of people, mob-lynching by cow vigilantes and high corruption in Government has left them with no excuse.
Faking Caste Certificate
The diffidence within the BJP could be gauged from the fact that BJP’s sitting MP and candidate from Machchlishahar Ram CharitraNishad returned the BJP ticket and decided to join the SP. The SP has fielded him from Mirzapur. The furnishing of the fake caste certificate by Yogi Government Minister S. P. Baghel has also assumed importance. Baghel has produced the SC certificate to contest for the LS seat from Agra which is reserved for Scheduled Castes though he belongs to the OBC.
Mr. Om Prakash Rajbhar, a minister under Yogi Government too has deserted the BJP. He had merged his Bharat Samaj Party on the eve of 2014 LS elections. He wields considerable influence in eastern UP with seats like Varanasi, Bhadohi, Ballia, Chandauli, Ghazipur, Mau, and Azamgarh. The Nishad Party which controls the votes of Nishads, the rowers of boat in rivers in eastern UP, too has distanced itself from the BJP. It can take away BJP votes in constituencies of Gorakhpur, Ballia, SantKabir Nagar, Kushinagar, Maharajganj and Deoria.
Given these circumstances, poll pundits are not willing to give more than 35 seats from the State to the BJP at this juncture.