dailyO
Politics

UP Elections 2022 Phase 5: What is at stake?

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalFeb 24, 2022 | 13:07

UP Elections 2022 Phase 5: What is at stake?

As the the UP election battles moves towards the Purvanchal region, here is how the political parties are going into the fifth phase.

As the UP Election battle 2022 moves towards Purvanchal (Eastern UP) political leaders are sharpening their attacks against each other. The region includes the prominent place of Ayodhya and the Ram Mandir, on which the BJP has built its political innings ever since its inception. 

The contest in this region falls in 12 districts of Awadh and Purvanchal region which includes Amethi, Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Barabanki and Gonda among others.

The 12 districts are known to be strongholds of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The districts are:

  1. Amethi
  2. Rae Bareli
  3. Sultanpur
  4. Chitrakoot 
  5. Pratapgarh
  6. Kaushambi
  7. Prayagraj
  8. Barabanki
  9. Ayodhya
  10. Bahraich
  11. Shravasti
  12. Gonda

In 2017, BJP won 47 seats while its ally Apna Dal won 3 in this region. Samajwadi Party (SP) got 5, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got 3, Congress 1 and two independent candidates also won.

But this time, the political climate has changed for the parties. The BJP's strong seats are riding high on anti-incumbency. SP which won the region well in 2012 and lost to the BJP in 2017, hopes to dismantle the BJP juggernaut from its stronghold, while BSP tries to be the ultimate kingmaker. 

WHY IS IT CRUCIAL FOR THE BJP IN 2022?

gettyimages-46127616_022422123501.jpgHome Minister Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi. Photo: Getty Images

BJP holds sway over the voters in this region. The Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, on which the saffron party came to power in UP in the 1990s, plays a big role. The construction of Ram Mandir which started in August 2021 can provide important gains for the ruling party. CM Yogi Adityanath in one of his rallies in Ayodhya said, "Jin logon ne karsewakon mein goliyan chalwayi, kya wo Ram Mandir banwa paate? (Those who got bullets fired against Karsewaks, could these people have constructed the Ram Mandir?)."

BJP has kept the temple issue intact this time, but not as loud as it had in 2017 and 2019. The politics of Eastern UP plays around the Ram Temple issue.

The BJP is also looking at the Awadh and Purvanchal region to mitigate the losses of the first three phases it might have made. In the first phase, the SP-RLD alliance seemed to have dented the BJP vote bank. The Jat voter which seemed disillusioned by the BJP in 2022 semeed to have gone the other way this time.

Similarly, the Muslim-dominated belt stayed away from the BJP. In the third phase of the Yadav strongholds, though the BJP made inroads in 2017; in 2022, the fight saw a changed narrative with the Yadav voter siding with the SP. The Yadav family strongholds like Etah, Etawah, Mainpuri, Kannauj and Firozabad have 30 seats which the BJP swept in 2017, winning 23 out of them. In 2022, Akhilesh Yadav focused more on his own turf to challenge the BJP.

The Awadh and Purvanchal belt has been a strong turf of the BJP since 2017. The 2019 Lok Sabha results just reinforced the belief in the party high command when it won comprehensively in UP despite the two strong caste parties SP and BSP coming together.

WHAT’S WORRYING FOR BJP?

If the farmers' angst was the issue in the first few phases, the menace of bulls in Eastern UP has become an out-of-the-box issue for the BJP. The issue has shot to prominence in the last few days as more farmers have spoken about it. Many farmers in this region are agitated by the stray cows and bulls trampling the crops over. Many also lost their lives while being accidentally hit by the raging bulls. The matter has also found mention in the rallies of political leaders.

PM Modi in his rally in Bahraich said that the party will come out with a new scheme to deal with the issue. CM Yogi Adityanath has promised Rs 900 to those who keep the cows. Meanwhile, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav has said that the party, if it comes to power, will give compensation of Rs 5 lakh to those who lost their lives while protecting their fields.

SP RIDING HIGH ON ANTI-INCUMBENCY

1_022422123137.jpgSP leader Akhilesh Yadav. Photo: India Today

In the fifth phase, the main opposition party SP which stitched an alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), rides on the anti-incumbency wave. In 2012, the party made subsequent gains in the Varanasi, Vindhyanchal and Azamgarh region. Out of 61 seats, SP won 39 in 2012. But in 2017, the party was decimated to only 5 seats.

SP has also vociferously spoken against the politicisation of the Ram Mandir issue since the beginning. Perhaps, it is also one factor that pulls the minority vote towards it. But SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav cunningly kept the topic at bay in his rallies this time.

Akhilesh Yadav did so because in the Awadh and Purvanchal regions, the party is without any strong ally. Its ally Om Prakash Rajbhar (SBSP) has an influence in the Ghazipur-Jaunpur belt but does not have a pan-UP hold. The Yadav supremo made considerable efforts to shift from its Yadav-Musim votebank tag and has tried to include other castes too in his fold.

HOW BSP PLAYS IN THE PURVANCHAL REGION

pti11_30_2021_000085_022422123220.jpgBSP Supremo Mayawati. Photo: PTI

It would be naive to write off Mayawati’s BSP in the Purvanchal region as the party once held a crucial vote bank here. Though Mayawati might not have been active in the early stages of campaigning, the party still holds the capability to play spoiler in many seats. The BSP in many seats has made a triple contest; at times, pitching a strong minority candidate against the SP’s minority candidate, which in turn helps the BJP. BSP has fielded 88 Muslim candidates this time.

BSP’s social engineering of forming the Sarv Samaj, bringing the Brahmin vote in its kitty, played well in 2006. BSP won the 2007 elections, winning 206 of 403 seats. But in 2012 and 2017, the BJP successfully managed to snatch the Brahmin vote from the BSP. In the run-up to the 2022 elections, Mayawati has also changed strategies to get back the BSP's Brahmin, Jatav and non-Jatav vote from the BJP.

But will Mayawati be able to accomplish what she intends to or will this be the end of Maywati's political adventure in UP politics?

March 10 will have all answers.

Last updated: February 24, 2022 | 13:26
IN THIS STORY
Please log in
I agree with DailyO's privacy policy