BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi's “popularity” and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh's “clout” in the dominant Jat voters would be put to test on Thursday when 10 Lok Sabha seats in the western region of the state go to polls in the first phase of polling in the state.
The first phase would also prove whether the glamor of the film actors Raj Babbar, Nagma (both Congress) and Jaya Prada (RLD) indeed helped them in attracting votes.
A tough electoral fight is likely to be witnessed on all the 10 seats which includes among others the riot-torn Muzaffarnagar, where the impact of the last year’s communal violence that had claimed 62 lives and displaced thousands others, was clearly visible.
The other seats going to the polls on Thursday included Ghaziabad, Meerut, Bijnore, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Saharanpur, Kairana, Aligarh, Bulandshahar and Baghpat.
The BJP, which had won Ghaziabad and Meerut seats in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, was aiming to increase its tally substantially riding on what it calls a “Modi wave” and polarization of the Jat votes in its favour following the riots.
Thursday’s polls would decide the fate of former Mumbai top cop and BJP nominee Satypal Singh (Baghpat) and senior state BJP leader Hukum Singh (Kairana), besides former army chief V K Singh (Ghaziabad).
Stakes are also high for the RLD, which too had two seats—Bijnore and Baghpat— last time. Ajit Singh faces a tough fight on his home turf of Baghpat this time.
Samajwadi Party (SP) had managed to win only Bulandshahar seat last time and this time the party was not leaving any stone unturned to increase its tally.
BSP, which had won five of the ten seats, was hoping to ride over the support of ‘Dalit-Muslims’. BSP supremo Mayawati had addressed a series of election rallies in the region to keep her Dalit vote bank intact.
The Congress has nothing to lose. It could not win any seat last time. But this time, the party hopes to do well on Ghaziabad from where Raj Babbar was contesting and Meerut where Nagma was on the fray.