BJP sees chance in Uttar Pradesh Phase-5 elections
Deccan Chronicle.| Sanjay Basak and Yojna Gusai
Ayodhya, the epicentre of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is expected to play a major role for the BJP in this region
Polling officials check the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) before they leave for their respective polling stations on the eve of the fifth phase of Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, in Allahabad. (Sanjay KANOJIA / AFP)
New Delhi: As the high-stakes Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections enters the fifth phase on Sunday, the BJP is hoping that in this round of polling it will make up for the losses it might have incurred in the first three phases.
The Samajwadi Party's core vote bank -- Muslims, Yadavs and aggrieved Jats -- are weaker in number and do not play a key role in any of the 61 Assembly constituencies going to polls on Sunday. Another advantage for the BJP is that its main rival, SP, is fighting without any powerful ally in this region dominated by OBC, particularly Kurmis, scheduled caste (mainly Pasi community) Brahmins and Thakurs.
In 2017, the BJP had trounced the rivals by winning 47 of the 61 seats. While the BJP ally, Apna Dal (S), had won three seats, SP won five, BSP won three and the Congress had managed to bag two.
The districts going to the polls include Ayodhya, Amethi, Rae Bareli, Chitrakoot, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Bahraich, Barabanki, Gonda and Shravasti.
Ayodhya, the epicentre of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is expected to play a major role for the BJP in this region. While the VHP distributed "prasad" and "soil" from the Ram temple and urged voters to elect a "nationalist government", chief minister Yogi Adityanath told his core vote bank, "Jin logon ne kar-sewakon ke upar goliyan chalwayi, kya woh Ram Mandir banwa paate? (Those who fired upon the Karsewaks, could they have been able to construct the Ram temple?)"
Even as BJP is relying on divine intervention to return to power, unemployment, price rise and the menace of bulls in eastern UP have emerged as key issues during this election. The bull menace worsened following the collapse of the cattle market after the BJP came to power in 2017. The farmers are agitated by the stray cows and bulls trampling over their corps. Many farmers have been gored to death by rampaging bulls in their attempts to protect the fields.
Sensing that bulls and cows are creating a major electoral hurdle for the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised voters of a new policy to deal with the menace. SP leader Akhilesh Yadav had earlier assured the electorates that if his party came to power, it "will give a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs to those who lost their lives while protecting their fields." Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi wrapped up her campaign for the fifth phase saying, "PM is aware of the Ukraine crisis but not of the problems being created by the stray cattle."
Trying to ride on the anti-incumbency plaguing the Yogi government, the SP has been attacking the BJP over the "politicisation" of Ram Mandir, joblessness, stray cattle, covid deaths and price rise. However, with the backward caste playing a key role, this particular phase will test the allies of both the BJP and SP.
Fighting over Kurmis would be daughter Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal (S), a BJP ally, and Apna Dal (K) led by mother Krishna Patel who has joined hands with the SP. The SP is also relying on the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by a former minister in the Yogi government, Om Prakash Rajbhar. The SBSP's hold over backward communities including Kumhar, Prajapati, Kori, Bind and Kushwaha will be tested in this phase.
The BJP on the other hand has given 16 seats to Dr Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party. Dr Nishad had been claiming that his party has influence over 150 of the 403 seats in the state. Of the 72 candidates fielded by the Nishad Party in 2017, only one had managed to win. The SP would also be banking heavily on the influence of the OBC leaders like Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan, who recently quit the BJP to throw their weights behind Akhilesh Yadav.