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Mainstream, VOL LV No 12 New Delhi March 11, 2017

BJP’s Feverish Attempts to Win UP Polls

Sunday 12 March 2017, by SC

EDITORIAL

The marathon State Assembly elections are over. The seventh and final phase of polling in UP came to an end today—the percentage of polling being 60; whereas the second and final phase of polling in Manipur recorded an 80.6 per cent turnout.

Although these elections saw five States—Goa, Manipur, Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand—going to polls, the UP elections are the most vital since this State with 403 Assembly seats has always presented a daunting picture and the political organisation which rules the State has the potentiality to rule the country. In 2014 the BJP won with its allies an incredible number of 73 out of a total 80 seats from this State in the Lok Sabha polls; such a big haul was instrumental in the party securing an absolute majority in the Lower House of Parliament. Hence this time it has strained all its nerves to win the UP Assembly elections on its own.

As is well known, the media—especially the electronic media—has for quite sometime been kowtowing to the ruling party at the Centre and some leading TV personalities have gone out of their way to forecast a BJP victory in UP even though any such prediction, given the extremely close contest between the contenders, is most hazardous at this stage. However, some objective analysts have contested such a forecast and insist, on the basis of logic and analyses, that the BJP would secure between 120 and 123 seats, SP-Congress alliance 155-160, BSP 100-105, RLD led by Ajit Singh 20-23 seats.

Of course, how far such assertions are correct would be known by Saturday (March 11) when the counting takes place and the results are declared thereafter. However, one point must be underlined: the presence of the PM and several Ministers of his Cabinet in the State for three days and Narendra Modi’s whirlwind campaign reflected the anxiety in the BJP camp. Also the marked public support for the SP-Congress alliance and BSP was evident in the highly successful Akhilesh Yadav-Rahul Gandhi roadshows at Varanasi and BSP supremo Mayawati’s most disciplined mass rallies.

But these apart, another issue needs to be brought into focus. As the advocacy group, Rihai Manch, has explained, the armed encounter between the security forces and a terror suspect in the early hours of today in Lucknow’s Thakurganj area was a “tactic by the Central Government to polarise the last phase of elections in UP in the BJP’s favour”. It further disclosed that a “similar attempt was made in Sambhal in the first phase of elections but the Jat voters punctured the plan”.

Several Congress leaders, including Digvijay Singh, have also questioned the excessive publicity given to such an encounter at this juncture. (The terror suspect was initially said to be an IS agent but later the UP Police officers informed that there was no evidence to that effect.)

This only exposes the feverish attempts the ruling party at the Centre is making to win the UP polls at any cost.

And in the process once again the significance of these State Assembly elections at the current juncture comes out in bold relief.

March 8 s.c.