Lucknow, Feb 10: The adrenaline-pumped campaign of the political parties came to an end for the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections scheduled on February 11. All the parties, may it be the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress alliance, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who in this long period of campaigns leading up to the final moment threw mud on each other, must now wait as the countdown for the UP polls begin.

The 15 districts which are going for polls on February 11 are Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat, Meerut, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Mathura, Aligarh, Hathras, Meerut, Agra, Firozabad, Etah and Kasganj. The rest of the phases will vote on February 15, 19, 23 , 27 and March 4 and 8. The counting of votes will be on March 11.

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Notably, this first phase includes 73 seats of Western UP, where basically, the struggle between the BJP, the BSP and the Congress-SP alliance has taken the shape of a tripartite struggle. Noteworthy, that in this Western UP region lies the seats spreading over 15 districts, including Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, the districts scarred by riots in the recent past.

The general spirit of this year’s campaign has been largely rhetoric and each party slingling the dirtiest mud possible on the other. While the Congress-SP alliance are stuck with the ‘demonetisation ruining lives of the poor’ mantra, the BSP apart from the ‘demonetisation mantra’ has taken another course and that is the fear of repelling of reservations for the Dalits or the minority communities.

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On the other hand, the Prime Minister of India has taken it quite personally and went ahead with the ‘development’ card. While he and his party, made it a point to highlight the benefits of the demonenisation drive and spread visions which are highly doubtful, the newly formed alliance between the SP and the Congress has provided the BJP to take pretty creative jibes on them.

Noteworthy that, there is another party at play in the Western UP region and that is Amit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RlD), which reportedly has considerable support in the region. This year, the RLD is contesting 59 of the 73 seats in first phase of elections. However, in the last elections, both the SP and the BSP secured 24 seats each in the region which has 73 seats and the BJP got only 11 of them. But surprisingly, in the 2014 General Elections, the BJP bagged 71 out of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, and this has quite evidently boosted the confidence of the party. The RLD in all of this bagged nine seats in the region, while the Congress could get only five.

According to PTI, the western region was once the favourite vote hunting ground for the BSP. And quite clearly, this year too Mayawati has aimed to garner maximum votes, banking on the Dalit-Muslim population of the area. Mayawati throughout her campaigned kept on narrowing her scope of voters to just the Dalits and the Muslims of the state and quite recently said that the Narendra Modi government is not a government for the minority communities and they will take away the reservations enjoyed by them up till now.

Mayawati

The BJP has been consistent in its claims that the Akhilesh Yadav government has robbed the people of the development they deserve and it is the BJP government which will bring about that development in Uttar Pradesh. the whole ‘Vikas ka Vanvas’ (Exile of Development)jibe is all about that and the BJP leaders, including the PM evoke the idea of bringing in proper roads, electricity and education to the state. Modi’s repeated claims of how electricity and cooking gas will save the eyes and health of the mothers of the State, how the people will be able to watch ‘Saas-Bahu’ TV serials, cannot be effective to habitual listeners, although it might please the first-timers. However, in their manifesto, in a way ignoring the EC and the SC, the BJP went full on with their claims to build the Ram Mandir. This move by the BJP is bound to influence the Muslim votes of the region negatively. And this point clearly backs up Mayawati’s claims.

The SP-Congress alliance, on the other hand, following a feud in the SP, which resulted Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav now being at the backstage, has nothing much to offer to the people as well. They instead went ahead to speak evil about the BJP. The constant rant about the demonetisation effect and how Modi government failed it’s promise of ‘Acche Din’ (Good days), the SP-Congress alliance has nothing much to offer. Moreover, while Akhilesh still can boast of the two projects-Metro and Expressway, but Rahul Gandhi fails to impress and seems in desperate need to be saved from being thrown out of the political scenario, which is indeed a greater threat to the Congress.

The BJP leaders like Sangeet Soma and yogi Adityanath took the more radical side and focussed upon garnering, firstly the sentiments of the Hindu-majority and then their votes and claimed that the ruling SP government is not attentive to the needs of the Hindus and this leading to alleged ‘exodus’. On the other hand, Mayawati claims that in their attempt to defeat the BJP government, one must not vote for the SP-Congress as this would be mere wastage of their votes and vote for the BSP instead.

If the question is whether the SP-Congress alliance bring about any drastic change in the way SP or Congress would have gathered votes, the answer is it is too early to say that. But given that the internal feud might have emotionally moved the voters a bit, but the alliance with Congress might actually reflect negatively upon the performance of the SP. Just as the BJP now can say that SP and Congress are allies now, and they are the government of the corrupt, the BJP can actually back the allegations with alleged links of Congress to various scams, Moreover, the Congress is going through, what can be said, a rough patch and if it actually was looking for an ally with Sp, it is just to save its own skin and the SP might not really have any gains from this alliance. However, it is too late to discuss that and the BJP got what it wanted, another joke to make about the alliance, when they said, “Mother is fed up with one and father is fed up with the other, How will they help UP?”

As per PTI, stray incidents of violence has been reported of supporters of SP and BSP clashing in Hathras district which reportedly led to the death of a person and injured five. In another incident, brother of an RLD candidate was killed and was found near Khurja in Bulandshahr district.