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On UP hinges Modi’s third term and I.N.D.I.A bloc’s hopes

While the BJP will be banking heavily on Modi and Ram temple waves, the SP-Congress combo hopes to stop the saffron juggernaut
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 23:10 IST
Last Updated : 14 April 2024, 23:10 IST

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Lucknow: With 80 Lok Sabha in its kitty, Uttar Pradesh will almost certainly decide the next government at the Centre.

While a good performance by the BJP, which has set itself the target of winning all the seats in the state this time, will guarantee a third term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the hopes of the I.N.D.I.A bloc to not only stop the BJP juggernaut but to have any chance of wresting power from the saffron party will also depend largely on its performance in this politically most crucial state.

The BJP, which won 62 LS seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 General Elections on its own, has added new alliance partners in the form of Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Jayant Singh and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) of Om Prakash Rajbhar apparently to garner support of the Jat and Rajbhar communities, respectively, in the state.

Jat, Nishad vote banks

The electorally influential Jat community can influence the outcome of the polls on several Lok Sabha seats in the western UP region. The Rajbhar community has a sizable strength in around a dozen districts in the eastern UP region.

The Nishad Party, which enjoys considerable support among the ‘Nishad’ (fishermen) community that is in strength in around a dozen districts in the eastern region of the state, and Apna Dal (Anupriya Patel), a ‘kurmi’ outfit having influence in around half a dozen districts in the eastern part of the state, are already alliance partners of the BJP.

Temple factor

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has allied this time with the Congress while the BSP will be going solo in the polls. Although the BSP has been reduced to a fringe player in the state, its decision not to join the I.N.D.I.A grouping has made the fight triangular in pockets, especially in the seats where its candidates are strong and Dalit voters are in sizable numbers.

The BJP will be banking heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is again in the fray from Varanasi, and the firebrand saffron clad UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to achieve its mission of winning all the 80 seats in the state.

The saffron party also feels that the consecration ceremony at the Ram Temple has created a ‘wave’ in its favour in the state. “There is a wave in our favour ... .the blessings of Lord Ram are with us,” said senior party leader Vijay Bahadur Pathak.

In the 2022 Assembly polls in the state, the saffron party secured 42 per cent votes and won 325 seats with its alliance partners. The party, however, could not make a dent into the SP bastions in the eastern and in some parts of the western regions of the state. It has brought to its fold this time, the RLD, a predominantly ‘Jat’ outfit, as an alliance partner to improve its performance in the western districts.

BSP may play spoiler

In the last General Elections in 2019, the SP and the BSP had an alliance and the latter not only won 15 seats together but had also given a tough fight to the BJP in more than a dozen LS seats. Though the two parties are contesting separately this time, giving some advantage to the BJP, the BSP has strategically selected its candidates who can also damage the BJP’s prospects in several seats.

The SP, which polled an impressive 32 per cent votes and fared comparatively better in the 2022 Assembly polls, will be looking to increase its vote share after its alliance with the Congress. “We will raise issues like exam paper leaks, the old pension scheme, farmers’ issues and inflation to corner the BJP,” said SP leader Rajendra Choudhary.

Although the BSP is going solo, it has selected its candidates keeping in mind the caste equations in the constituencies. For a change the party has fielded Brahmins, Thakurs, OBCs and Muslims in good numbers apparently trying to strike a winning combination.

Although the AIMIM of Asauddin Owaisi and Apna Dal (Krishna Patel) have allied this time and the alliance has fielded its nominees in dozens of Lok Sabha constituencies, their influence is expected to be limited to some pockets only.

Key Issues Ram Temple: The consecration of Ram Lalla at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya is still fresh in the minds of the people. BJP has been taking people from different parts of the country to Ayodhya for darshan. Farmers’ agitation: West UP districts had witnessed protests by the farmers against the now-scrapped farm laws in 2022. The recent protests in support of MSP laws also had echo in the western UP region. The Opposition has been going all out to woo the farmers. Stray Cattle: Stray cattle was a big issue in the 2022 Assembly polls in the state and at many places the farmers had staged protests. It is still an issue in large parts of the state though it remains to be seen if it will help the Opposition. Exam Paper leaks: A spate of leaks of competitive exam papers which led to cancellation of examinations triggered protests from the youths in several parts of the state in the past few months.

Cut-off box - Constituencies in focus Varanasi: Prime minister Narendra Modi is in the fray here for the third time. He will look to improve his winning margin. Raebareli: Sititng MP Sonia Gandhi is not contesting. Congress is yet to declare its candidate. Amethi: Used to be represented by Rahul Gandhi before his defeat in 2019. Not yet clear if Rahul will contest from the seat. Faizabad: BJP has been winning the constituency which houses Ram Temple since 2014. The SP also has a strong presence here.

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Published 14 April 2024, 23:10 IST

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