Polls Apart

THE all-important state of Uttar Pradesh has just two more phases to go and the outcome is due to be announced on March 10. So far voters in 292 out of 403 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh have voted, which is 70 percent of the electorate. But so far it is not clear which party has an edge. But many analysts see the BJP returning to power with the Samajwadi Party led by Akhilesh Yadav breathing down its neck. So, the 111 seats which are yet to go to polls will be critical in deciding the winner.

Congress, on the other hand, has decided to go solo in the state and is contesting on all 403 Assembly constituencies. Unlike last Assembly election when it was part of a Mahagathbandhan with the SP and the BSP, Congress ruled out any pre-poll alliance with political parties. This was a big decision considering that Congress has not been doing well in Uttar Pradesh for three decades now. The Congress also announced that 40 percent of the party’s tickets will be reserved for women this time. According to Congress general secretary and incharge of the polls in Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi, the “politics of hate” can be changed by more women joining politics. Whether this would make any difference only the election outcome will tell.

But for now it appears that it would be difficult to completely dislodge the BJP. An ABP-CVoter poll in December showed that the BJP will return to power in the UP but not without the party losing over 100 seats it won in the last state elections. In Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress (INC) are locked in a neck-and-neck fight, but without either likely to hit the majority mark. Goa, on the other hand, is set to go the BJP’s way.

However, it would be the UP election that are the centre of political attention. Its outcome, as the home minister Amit Shah earlier said, largely decides who rules in New Delhi. The BJP thus would leave no stone unturned that it gets back to power in the state even if it loses a small chunk of seats. For Congress, it would be equally important to put up some decent showing in the state to stay in the reckoning for 2024 national polls. The UP polls would also be a litmus test for caste-based parties like the SP and the BSP. The rise of Hindutva has swallowed most of their vote-bank. It will be interesting to see how these parties fare this time around.

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