Religion, caste issues steal thunder in UP byelections

Religion, caste issues steal thunder in UP byelections

Religion and caste have put people’s problems on the back burner in the forthcoming byelections to 11 assembly and one Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, the campaigning for ended on Thursday.

The recent floods in over a dozen districts and drought in over 40 others, affecting millions of people, have failed to be high on agendas of  political players and issues like love “jihad,” communal flare-ups and caste dominated the scene.

From the Rohaniya Assembly seat in the eastern region of the state to the Saharanpur constituency in the west, the contenders left no stone unturned to polarise voters either on caste or religious lines.

Political experts feel that voting at the forthcoming bypolls was likely to be on caste or communal lines. “It is sad but true. It seems that no one is interested in taking up the real issues that confront the common people,” says Prof Dinesh Kumar, a former faculty at the University of Lucknow.

A large number of people in the areas affected by the recent floods were still awaiting relief while a large part of the state has been experiencing a severe drought forcing many to migrate to other places in search of livelihood. A “polarisation” is clearly visible in Thakurdwara in Moradabad district, Saharanpur city and Bijnore. Caste factor is likely to play a crucial role in the Mainpuri Lok Sabha bypoll as well as in Hamirpur, Sirathu and a few other Assembly seats. 

BJP star campaigner and party MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath and other party leaders raked up the issue of love “jihad” at almost all his election rallies.

The campaigning also witnessed personal attacks on rivals. Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and UP minister Azam Khan and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were locked in a sharp wordy duel during the campaigning, adding to the prevailing tension.

A victory for the BJP will be a morale booster for the party, which had been stung by the recent reverses in Bihar, Karnataka and Uttarakhand bypolls. 

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