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UP polls 2017: Battle for heartland begins in west that may hold the key

UP Assembly Elections 2017: The contours of the region changed in 2013 when violence — Muzaffarnagar and Shamli formed the epicentre — spread across several districts.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: February 11, 2017 10:31 am
uttar pradesh, UP election, Uttar Pradesh election, UP elections 2017, west uttar pradesh, UP election first phase, narendra modi, akhilesh yadav, rahul gandhi, mayawati, mulayam singh yadav, amit shah Rampur: UP CM and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav addresses an election rally in Rampur on Wednesday. PTI Photo

With 73 constituencies and the possibility of triggering a wave that may just affect elections across Uttar Pradesh, an estimated 2.6 crore people in its western region will cast the first votes in the state Saturday. Ground zero for the 2013 violence that killed at least 65 and rendered thousands homeless and an alleged Hindu exodus, the region accounts for the most sensitive polling booths — at least 600 — where video cameras will be installed to maintain law and order. The region has witnessed hectic campaigning over the last two weeks as parties fielded star campaigners in a last-minute rush to garner support. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UP Chief Minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, BSP chief Mayawati, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and several cabinet ministers have addressed public meetings.

At a rally in Muzaffarnagar last week, Akhilesh stressed the importance of being the first voters in UP. “You are voting first in UP. You will set the tone for the rest of the state,” he said.  Sources in SP and BJP in western UP agreed. “In such a phased election, the mood is very important. People can sense which way the wind is blowing and this is an advantage for everybody. To win UP, performance in western UP is a must,” a senior BJP leader in Muzaffarnagar said.  In the 2012 assembly polls, the SP and BSP won 24 seats each, followed by BJP (11), Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (9) and the Congress (5).

The contours of the region changed a year later when violence — Muzaffarnagar and Shamli formed the epicentre — spread across several districts. Over three days starting September 7, 2013, at least 65 were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced — most of the affected were Muslims — as they fled villages to escape the carnage. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP swept all seats in western UP. While the BJP, SP and Congress have played down the 2013 violence in campaign speeches, it became the fulcrum for the BSP poll pitch. In her speeches, Mayawati has constantly referred to the riots and extolled her party’s superior law and order track record. The region was also once a BSP bastion, where the party had enjoyed support from the combination of Muslims and Dalits.

In 2017, Mayawati and BSP face stiff competition for the same electorate, particularly Muslims, after the Congress and SP announced an alliance and seat-sharing in UP. Other issues in the region include development of infrastructure and payment of sugar cane dues, the latter of which the RLD hopes to cash in on. There are 839 candidates in the fray in 15 districts where 26,823 polling stations have been set up. Among the electorate are 1.17 crore women and 1,508 belonging to third gender category. The largest constituency is Sahibabad, while Jalesar is the smallest.

The maximum number of 26 candidates are in fray from Agra South, while the least number of aspirants are in Hastinapur with just six candidates. Prominent candidates include Pankaj Singh, son of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, from Noida; Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur from Mathura; Mriganka, daughter of BJP MP Hukum Singh who raised issues of a Hindu exodus, in Kairana; and, controversial BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana from Sardhana and Thanabhawan.

The Election Commission of India said elaborate security arrangements had been made in all districts. Around 6,000 paramilitary personnel are being deployed in all 887 polling centres in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring Shamli, particularly areas that witnessed communal riots in 2013. Districts going to polls in the first phase are Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Firozabad, Etah and Kasganj. Chief Election Commissioner Naseem Zaidi, who reviewed poll preparations, said those who had migrated from Kairana for any reason, will be extended security if they take part in the polling process in their respective areas. The six other phases of polling are on February 15, 19, 23 and 27 and on March 4 and 8, while counting of votes will take place March 11.

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  1. A
    Aparna
    Feb 11, 2017 at 5:20 pm
    Bade parde par 11 March ko DIMPLE yadav ki CHU Daa yee
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    1. B
      Brij
      Feb 11, 2017 at 10:38 pm
      RSS BJP ISI social media team is trying to fool and mislead Indians. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;jungle Raj in Rss bjp ruled stateslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;KG basin scam by modi for 10,000 coreslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Sahara Birla diaries NAME modi receiving bribeslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradeshlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;60 MURDERED to cover up Vyapam scamlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;MP is rape capital of indialt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Rajasthan is 2nd rape capital of Indialt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Jat riots in Haryana lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Modi's consuency of varanasi is hub of human trafficking and prosutionlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Demonization cost India lakh of cores in losses and Modi still hasn't said what we achieved with experiment.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The guy who declared 13,000 cores is out Scott free and small time traders are hared.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Indian are at the border defending us from external enemies but Rss bjp Modi has managed to kill 100 Indians from inside with demonatisation. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;BJP leader arrested for being ISI agent.
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      1. A
        Anon
        Feb 11, 2017 at 12:50 am
        क्या इन मेसे कोई कांग्रेसी है ? गाँधी नेहरू परिवार का है ? खड़गे का रिश्तेदार है ? पढ़े ज्वलंत प्रश्न🔥🔥🔥🔥 💥मंगल पांडे को फाँसी❓ 💥तात्या टोपे को फाँसी❓ 💥रानी लक्ष्मीबाई को अंग्रेज सेना ने घेर कर मारा❓ 💥भगत सिंह को फाँसी❓ 💥सुखदेव को फाँसी❓ 💥राजगुरु को फाँसी❓ 💥चंद्रशेखर आजाद का एनकाउंटर🔫 अंग्रेज पुलिस द्वारा❓ 💥सुभाषचन्द्र बोस को गायब करा दिया गया❓ 💥भगवती चरण वोहरा बम विस्फोट 💣में मृत्यु💥रामप्रसाद बिस्मिल को फाँसी 💥अशफाकउल्लाह खान को फाँसी 💥रोशन सिंह को फाँसी💥लाला लाजपत राय की लाठीचार्ज में मृत्यु💥वीर सावरकर को कालापानी की सजा चाफेकर बंधू (3 भाई) को फाँसी मास्टर सूर्यसेन को फाँसी ये तो कुछ ही नाम है जिन्होंने स्वतन्त्रता संग्राम और इस देश की आजादी में अपना सर्वोच्च बलिदान दिया कई वीर ऐसे है हम और आप जिनका नाम तक नहीं जानते एक बात समझ मे नही आती कि भगवान ने गांधी और नेहरु को ऐसे कौन से कवच-कुण्डंल दिये थे जिसकी वजह से अग्रेंजो ने इन दोनो को फाँसी तो दूर , कभी एक लाठी तक नही मारी...उपर से यह दोनों भारत के बापू और चाचा बन गए और इनकी पीढ़ियाँ आज भी पूरे देश के उपर अपना पेंटेंट समझती है गहराई से सोचिये और हयूम जो ब्रिटिश इंटेलिजेंट विभाग का चीफ था उसने जनता के आक्रोश को थामकर उसको दिशा भ्रमित करने के लिए कांग्रेस की स्थापना की थी इस कारण शरुआत में कांग्रेस की मेम्बर शिप के लिए अंग्रेजी का ज्ञान जरुरी था और जिसको अंग्रेजी आती थी वही मेम्बर बन सकता था इस कारण 1930 के रावी प्रस्ताव तक कांग्रेस में गीत गाया जाता था राजा अमर रहे मतलब ब्रिटिश राजा अमर रहे गॉड सेव दी किंग उधर जब क्रान्तिकारियो ने पूर्ण स्वराज्य का नारा बुलंद किया तो कांग्रेस की आवाज में बदलाव आया वरना कोई कांग्रेसी का भी आजादी की लड़ाई में शहीद नहीं हुआ
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        1. J
          Jay
          Feb 11, 2017 at 2:15 am
          You are the only seeing person on planet? Or are you blind jihadi? Or so you open your eyes when you molest kids in church? I will put those facts here if you want about child molestation and then send your kids to your church for being molested before you come back and say excuse and phony reasons.
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          1. H
            Homi
            Feb 11, 2017 at 3:24 am
            HINDU KO NA DIYA LAPTOP NA DIYA MUAAWZAA
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