March 24, 2023

Stage set for 1st phase of polling in UP: Can BJP repeat its 2017 sweep? | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The nearly month-long electoral battle to win Uttar Pradesh is all set to begin on Thursday with voting in 58 assembly seats in the first of the seven-phase elections.
The first phase of voting covering 11 districts of western Uttar Pradesh will be crucial for the Yogi Adityanath-led ruling BJP as the saffron party had made a clean sweep in the region in the 2017 elections.
The BJP had won 53 of these 58 seats in 2017 at a strike rate of little over 91%. Hence, the stakes in Round 1 of polling are significant for the saffron party if it hopes to come anywhere close to its 2017 performance.
Of the remaining five seats, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party and Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party won two each, while the Rashtriya Lok Dal bagged one.

Clearly, the opposition was decimated in the region. The BJP victory in the region was not just big but also comprehensive. The party won 23 of the 53 seats with a victory margin of over 20%.

The Samajwadi Party and the Jayant Chowdhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal, which are contesting the 2022 elections in an alliance and are the principal challengers to the ruling BJP, will need to make huge gains here if they hope to unseat Yogi Adityanath.
How difficult is the task before the SP-RLD alliance can be gauged by the fact that it was not these two parties but the BSP that was the main challenger to the BJP in 2017 in this region.
While the SP was runners-up in 15 seats and third in 14, the RLD was runners-up in only 3 and in third position in 11 seats.
BSP’s role in BJP’s clean sweep
So, that brings us to the role of the BSP in BJP’s huge win in 2017. The BSP, which could manage to win in only two seats, was runners-up in 30 assembly seats. The SP was runners-up in 15 seats and the Congress in just 5.

Out of these 30 seats, the BSP polled more than 50,000 votes in as many as 28 seats.
Here’s some more interesting statistics that point to the importance of Mayawati in the region for both the contenders.
The BSP was at the third position in 20 assembly seats. Out of these 20, in as many as 12 seats, the victory margin of the BJP was less than the votes polled by Mayawati’s party.
This was the case in all the six assembly seats in Muzaffarnagar district, where the BJP won with a margin that was less than what the BSP polled.

Overall, in as many as 27 seats out of 53, the victory margin of the BJP was less than the votes polled by the party at the third position.
Clearly, division of opposition votes did help the BJP in several seats.
The BJP would want the BSP to contest with all its strength and divide the opposition votes. But Akhilesh Yadav realizes the harm that this could cause to his dream of defeating the BJP. Little wonder, he had appealed to Mayawati to join the opposition rank.
The BSP has put up candidates in several seats but its campaign has been somewhat subdued. And that has kept everyone guessing.
That perhaps explains why both the BJP and the SP-RLD combine are jittery about their prospects in these elections.
Both the SP and the RLD need to score big to upset the BJP. The RLD, which has reasonable clout in the region, will hope to do well in these elections. The party would hope to gain from the anger of the farmers against the ruling BJP.
Well, whether that happens or not we will know on March 10 when the votes will be counted.

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