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Western UP goes to the polls in Phase I: It’s all about the majority and minority vote

In this phase , the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have been targeting the Muslim community while the BJP is banking on sugarcane farmers and the poor law and order situation to swing things their way.

Written by Ishita Mishra |
February 10, 2017 5:55:19 pm
Uttar Pradesh Elections 2017, UP Elections 2017,  UP Polls 2017, Uttar Pradesh Polls 2017, samajwadi party, congress, sp-congress, bahujan samaj party, mayawati, narendra modi, muslim majority, akhilesh yadav, muslim vote bank, dalit vote bank, muzaffarnagar, shamli, india news, latest news The districts going to the polls in the first phase are Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Firozabad, Etah and Kasganj.

With the end of star-studded political campaigning on Thursday, Uttar Pradesh is all set to see the first phase of voting on Saturday for the crucial assembly election of 2017. It’s a matter of ‘do or die’ for political parties in UP this time and the first phase on February 11 will see polling in 73 constituencies spread across 15 districts of the hyper-sensitive western UP region which includes riot-scarred Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.

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

In this phase , the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have been targeting the Muslim community while the BJP is banking on sugarcane farmers and the poor law and order situation to swing things their way.

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In 2012, BJP had won just 11 of the 73 seats that are going to vote tomorrow. However the party’s performance in 2014 saw the party win 16 Lok Sabha seats from 15 districts in Phase I of the 2017 assembly polls. The saffron brigade is leaving no stone unturned to continue to ride the Modi wave of 2014.

With promises like shutting down mechanised slaughter houses to creating anti-Romeo squads and building the Ram Mandir, the BJP has targeted the Hindu voter in UP. The party has tried hard to lure Dalits as well but it’s still not clear how the community will vote. Since western UP is largely agrarian, Modi played the pro-poor and pro-farmers card and reiterated his party’s promise of waiving loans to small and marginal farmers and paying the dues of sugarcane growers within 14 days of coming to power.

The Muslim-dominated areas in the belt will be an acid test for BSP chief Mayawati who is banking heavily on the Dalit-Muslim vote bank. After giving nearly 100 tickets to the minorities, especially in areas that have decent Muslim population like Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, Mayawati is confident that Muslims are with her.

With a group of Muslim religious leaders on her side, the BSP chief has also managed to get support of people who were harassed by upper castes or Yadavs. In her rallies, Mayawati accused the Modi government of interfering with the personal law of Muslims and ending job reservation for backward communities. She promised to extend quota benefits to the poor among the upper castes.

She also attacked the Samajwadi Party, saying the Akhilesh government had let loose a reign of terror with hooligans committing “utmost atrocities” against women. The BSP supremo cautioned Muslims that if they wanted to defeat BJP, they should not waste their votes by backing SP-Congress alliance.

By fighting the polls together the SP and the Congress have made a four-cornered poll in UP into three-horse race . Though the combination claims to be the only way to stop BJP in UP, both the parties have some major flaws which has raised eyebrows. The contentious family drama of the Yadav family is still fresh in the minds of voters who may not have come to terms with this friendly tie-up between SP-Congress.

While SP has played the ‘Vikas’ card of Akhilesh Yadav who managed to inaugurate almost 100 ongoing projects, the Congress is playing on the youth icon image of Rahul Gandhi and the ill effects of Modi’s demonetization. With road-shows and rallies, Rahul and Akhilesh are making a great public display of camaraderie. The Yadav’s `bahus’, Dimple Yadav, Aparna Yadav are also making their presence felt in the UP polls this time while the Congress has kept its Priyanka card up its sleeve.

So there is everything to play for and to lose for all the parties on Saturday before they head into the rest of the election.

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