The Bharatiya Janata Party is all set to clinch Uttar Pradesh in this year’s crucial state assembly elections, according to the India Today-Axis opinion poll. In a poll survey conducted between October and December last year, voters gave a thumping mandate to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party despite the controversies surrounding the Centre’s demonetisation drive. BJP’s vote share surprisingly increased from 31 per cent in October to 33 per cent in December, a clear indication that the scrapping of old high tender notes will bear no effect on the poll outcome. This would roughly translate into 206-216 seats for the BJP, edging them past the halfway mark in the 403-member assembly. This is a major improvement considering that the party had won just 47 seats in the last assembly elections, a far cry from the 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats it had won in 2014.
The polls survey paints a grim picture for the ruling Samajwadi Party, which is currently embroiled in a bitter feud between rival factions over the control of the party. SP’s seat share is predicted to fall from 224 seats it won in 2012 to just 92-97 seats this year. The party can, however, take solace from the fact that Akhilesh Yadav emerged as a clear choice for the next state chief minister. Thirty three per cent of those polled wanted to see him return to power.
It is not all rosy in the Opposition benches. The BSP will be relegated to third place as they are likely to go on to win the same number of seats as last time (79-85 seats). Out of power in UP for 27 years, the Congress wait seems to stretch for a lot longer than expected as their numbers are expected to fall to single digits (5-9 seats). Other parties such as the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Apna Dal, the Left might win shore up anywhere between 7-11 seats.
The polling exercise in Uttar Pradesh will be spread over seven phases, with the first phase set to begin on February 11. The last date of polling is on March 8 and counting of votes will begin on March 11.