After day 1, BJP sees contest with BSP

After day 1, BJP sees contest with BSP
As the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh ended on Saturday, BJP leaders are saying the BSP has emerged as their main challenge.

Assembly elections are afoot in the state, and 73 constituencies voted in the western part of the state on Saturday in the first of five phases.

The BJP says the SP-Congress alliance is not as big a rival as BSP, the party led by Mayawati. The Samajwadi Party, led by Akhilesh Yadav, is ruling UP, and is in an alliance with the Congress.

The BJP is basing its assessment on a voter turnout of  63%, and the trend of Muslim votes being divided. The earlier perception was that the community would largely go with the SP-led coalition.

Jats, who had ensured the BJP’s emphatic win in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, have largely voted for the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), led by former Union minister Ajit Singh. They have also chosen strong community leaders from other parties, a BJP source said.

Poll managers said voting took place on caste lines and the development agenda had taken a back seat, a trend also reflected in Bihar, where an umbrella Opposition alliance led by the JD(U) defeated the BJP. The BJP had taken a lead in the western region to win 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in 2014.

In the corresponding first phase of the 2012 Assembly elections, 11 MLAs had won from the BJP, while the BSP and SP got 24 seats each. The BSP had eventually finished runners-up with 30 seats.

The RLD had clinched nine seats and its senior alliance partner Congress five in the 403-member Assembly.

Javadekar’s take

Even as polling was underway on Saturday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the state was voting for change, development and the BJP.

Though it is rare for a party to predict the outcome before voting is far from over, Javadekar cited an internal survey and told reporters, “The BJP will get 50 to 53 out of 73 constituencies.” He claimed the ‘prime position’ of the BJP remained intact since it had got 42% votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

To illustrate that the wind was favourable again, Javadekar said the BJP had on Saturday won all three MLC seats in Kanpur, Gorakhpur and Bareilly with huge margins, ranging from 9,000 to 25,000 votes. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the SP got 22.35% votes, while the BSP managed 19.77, despite failing to open its account in terms of seats won.  The BJP was a distant third in the 2012 Assembly elections for 403 seats, winning 47 seats and 15.21% votes.
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