LM NEWS 24
LM NEWS 24

Will Ram Temple Eclipse Basic Issues In UP 5th Phase Polls?

Eastern Uttar Pradesh is all set to tinge its political chrome as the countdown has begun for the fifth phase of state Assembly polls scheduled on Sunday.

A total of 61 Assembly constituencies spread across 12 districts including Ayodhya, Sultanpur, Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Barabaki, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Gonda, Amethi and Raebareli are going to polls on Sunday. The polling will begin at 7 am and continue till 6 pm.

As many as 692 candidates are in the fray in the fifth phase whose political fate will be decided by around 2.24 crore electorates.

The state is witnessing a multi-cornered contest with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as prime contenders.

In 2017, BJP had won 38 seats out of 55 seats in this region, while the SP had retained 15 and the Congress had won two seats.

When it comes to key issues, job losses among migrant labourers, lack of infrastructure, unemployment and most-importantly stray cattle menace hound the ruling BJP that might lead to a jerky ride for the party in this phase. Further, some sort of anti-incumbency factor exists that might reflect on the ballot box.

However, BJP is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charismatic image, double-engine rhetoric, free ration during the COVID pandemic and PM Awas Yojana.

On the other hand, Akhilesh Yadav-led SP is eying on youth electorates besides its traditional game of consolidation of Yadav and Muslim vote bank. Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM which is also in the fray may prove to be a spoiler in SP’s social engineering when it comes to Muslim voters. BSP supremo Mayawati who appeared to be on relatively backfoot in terms of aggressive campaigning is relying on its core Dalit vote bank.

With Priyanka Gandhi Vadra steering Congress’ power-packed campaigns, the party is also relying on this region for a good share of seats. The party believes Priyanka Gandhi’s “Ladki hoon lad sakti hoon” campaign will mobilize women voters that might bring some good fortune.

Now, the constituency that garnered most of the limelight in this phase is Ayodhya, the reason being the construction of the Ram Mandir.

It is imperative to mention that Ayodhya will see its first big election after the 2019 Supreme Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case. Ayodhya (earlier Faizabad) district has been the bastion of the BJP since 1991 after the Ram Janmabhoomi movement started in the 1980s.

With the development of the temple town and the sentiments of Hindu voters regarding “Ram”, BJP finds itself in a relatively comfortable position in this region than its contenders, especially the Samajwadi Party.

SP has fielded Brahmin face Tej Narayan Pandey against BJP’s sitting MLA Ved Prakash Gupta. Worth mentioning, Pandey won from the seat in the 2012 Assembly polls.

Thanks to Ram Mandir, the UP polls this time added a new aspect of temple politics. Political leaders across party lines, be it SP chief Akhilesh Yadav or Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi have not missed the chance for customary visits to temples. This can be seen as an effort to dent BJP’s vote bank.

Another most-talked about seat in this phase is Amethi which once used to be the bastion of the Congress Party.

Notably, in the last Assembly elections in 2017, the seat was bagged by the BJP. BJP’s Garima Singh defeated Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Gayatri Prasad with a margin of more than 5,000 votes in the last elections. However, the ruling party in the state denied the ticket to Garima Singh this time and fielded her husband Sanjay Sinh.

SP has fielded Prajapati’s wife Maharaji Prajapati after the SP leader was imprisoned in a gang-rape case in November last year. Congress nominated BJP turncoat Ashish Shukla against Sanjay Sinh who is also a former Congress MP and had given up his Rajya Sabha seat to join BJP in 2019.

Ashish Shukla had served as a minister during the Bahujan Samaj Party’s government. Later he tried his luck with BJP before settling for Congress. BSP supremo nominated Ragini Tiwari whereas the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) pitted Anurag from the Amethi Assembly seat.

One of the prominent candidates in this phase includes Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Aradhana Mishra who is fighting from Rampur Khas seat of Pratapgarh. Further, Raghuraj Pratap Singh, more popularly known as Raja Bhaiya, is contesting from Kunda.

Several ministers are in the fray in the fifth phase. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is contesting from Sirathu assembly seat in the Kaushambi district. Siddharth Nath Singh from Allahabad West, Nand Gopal Gupta Nadi from Allahabad South, Ramapati Shastri from Mankapur and Rajendra Singh alias Moti Singh from Patti (Pratapgarh).

Polling for four phases of the seven-phased Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections has already concluded. The fifth phase, which is scheduled on February 27, will majorly cover the eastern region.

The remaining two phases will take place on March 3 and March 6. The counting of votes will take place on March 10. (ANI)

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