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UP Phase 1: BJP Raced Ahead, SP-Congress And BSP In Close Fight For Second Position

UP Phase 1 BJP Raced Ahead

73 seats went to the polls on Feb 11, 2017 and the BJP is expected to win around 32 to 36 seats.

The first phase of the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh (UP) concluded yesterday (11th February). 73 seats, most of them in communally volatile western region of the state, polled in this phase. The Election Commission reported a turnout of 64.2 per cent.

Riding on the back of its spectacular performance in this region during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was hoping to reap a rich harvest of seats in this phase. Based on ground assessment, it is clear that the party, though unable to replicate the scale of its 2014 victory, has done reasonably well in this phase. However its ascendancy could be marred by possibility of some of its key candidates biting the dust . Many of them were involved in bitterly fought contests in their constituencies.

Out of the 73 seats that went to the polls yesterday, observers believe that BJP will win anywhere between 32 to 36 seats. The Samajwadi Party(SP) - Congress combine is tipped to win anywhere between 18 to 22 seats while BSP's tally is expected to be in the range of 12-15 seats .

But if BSP edges out BJP in half dozen seats where they are involved in a fight to finish, BSP could pip SP-Congress tally .

The strategy of the SP-Congress alliance to completely wean away Muslims from the BSP has not been successful.

And for the BJP, the groundwork it did to silently weave an alliance of non Yadav OBCs, coupled with the urban nature of seats in the first phase, has helped it retain its edge and overcome the effect of attrition of Jats and upper caste votes in few pockets.

It is still not clear how the Jats have voted but one thing is sure that there was no clear polarisation in favour of or against one party. BJP is to sure to lose a chunk of Jat votes compared to 2014 Lok Sabha election. Some voters went back to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) which may prove costly for the BJP in some close contests.

Though Kalyan Singh - by the virtue of being a sitting Governor - couldn’t campaign for the BJP in these polls his return has helped it massively in districts of Lodh, Bulandshahr and Kasganj . Out of 10 seats in these two districts, BJP is likely to score seven.

Analysis of important assembly seats

Kairana : Former BJP MLA Hukum Singh's daughter Mriganka Singh is expected to lose to the incumbent SP MLA Nahid Hasan who had won this seat in 2014 in a by-election.

Thanabhawan : BJP won this seat in 2012 against RLD by less than 300 votes. This time, Muslims have voted en-block to BSP. Jats to SP and Lok Dal. Votes of non-Yadav OBCs have gone to BJP. There is a close fight between BJP and BSP.

Shamli : In this constituency, anti BJP vote seems to have splintered between Congress, BSP and Lok Dal. BJP is likely to clinch this seat despite fielding a comparatively weak candidate. The independent Gujjar candidate proved to be a blessing who has taken away votes which would have gone to a non-BJP party.

Noida : Pankaj Singh, son of Rajnath Singh is winning this seat. Urban character of seat has proved to be an added positive factor.

Dadri : Here BJP is winning. This seat is dominated by Gujjars, Brahmins, and Thakurs. Congress, BSP, and BJP fielded Gujjar candidates but major chunk of Gujjar vote has gone to the BJP.

Loni : There is a close contest between BSP and BJP. However, Lok Dal may prove to be spoilsport for BJP because it has taken away votes which would have otherwise come to it.

Dholna seat in Hapur : Minor-Hindu consolidation in favour of SP. At macro-level, Hindu votes are divided between SP and BJP. Dalits here have voted en-block to BSP. So, there is a close contest between SP and BSP.

Garhmukteshwar : Choice of outsider as candidate seems to be damaging BJP. It is a Muslim-Dalit dominated seat, and SP is set to score here.

Hapur : Gajraj Singh, strong SC leader of Congress is expected to win. Muslims here have also voted for Congress.

Baghpat : The BJP is likely to win this seat. It had fielded a former RLD leader. RLD had fielded a Dalit but BSP has hurt RLD as it took away Muslim votes from RLD thus helping BJP. Non-Yadav OBCs here have voted for BJP.

Chhaprauli : RLD is expected to win here because Jat and Muslims have voted en-block.

Muzaffarnagar : This was the centre of riots in 2013. And SP is set to clinch this seat. BJP was suffering discontent in local unit and it has hurt the party.

Aligarh : It’s not clear if Jats have consolidated against the BJP here. If it were to happen, then BJP is in trouble. But Muslim consolidation, it is expected, is likely to trigger a counter Hindu one. Out of four seats in this district, BJP likely to get three.

Hathras : In this district, Brahmins have shifted to BSP while Jats have drifted towards RLD. Out of three seats, BJP is picking only one here.

Mathura : Out of five seats here, BJP is likely to get three. Jats in this region have voted for the BJP due to strong candidates.

Firozabad : This is solidSP fort. There are almost a lakh Yadavs in all the five seats of this district and the party is likely to get three.

Eta : This is Lodh dominated region were Kalyan Singh holds sway. Out of four seats, BJP is likely to get three.

Meerut : There are seven assembly constituencies in this district and all seats are dominated by Muslims. Hindu consolidation was necessary for BJP win. It seems the part will get only three seats here. Ex-state BJP president Lakshmi Kant Bajpai was fighting from Meerut and is expected to lose. Muslims in his seat voted en-block to SP. Hindu vote got divided between BSP and Lok Dal.

Published: Feb 12, 2017 (Originally published in https://swarajyamag.com)

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