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UP elections: Campaigning for first phase ends, all eyes on Jat stronghold

Uttar Pradesh elections: Covering the Jat-dominant belt of western UP, the first phase will see a total of 58 constituencies across 11 districts going to polls on February 10.

UP, Assembly election,Covering the Jat-dominant belt of western UP, the first phase will see a total of 58 constituencies across 11 districts. (PTI)

Campaigning for the first phase of assembly polls in western Uttar Pradesh ended on Tuesday evening, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) releasing their manifestoes.

Covering the Jat-dominant belt of western UP, the first phase will see a total of 58 constituencies across 11 districts going to polls on February 10. The districts where the elections will be held are Shamli, Hapur, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra.

The ruling BJP party has fielded 17 candidates from the Jat community, while the RLD has fielded 12 Jat candidates, and the SP six. There is anger in the community over the now withdrawn farm laws; issues like the payment of sugarcane dues also have some traction.

The first phase will decide the the fate of nine ministers in the Yogi Adityanath-led government. The ministers whose electoral fate will be decided are Suresh Rana, Atul Garg, Shrikant Sharma, Sandeep Singh, Anil Sharma, Kapil Dev Agarwal, Dinesh Khatik, Dr G S Dharmesh and Chaudhary Laxmi Narain.

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Union Home Minister of India Amit Shah along with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath releasing BJP manifesto for 2022 Uttar Prdesh Elections in Lucknow. 

As per the Election Commission guidelines, campaigning has to end 48 hours before the close of polls for each phase. The electioneering for the first phase was confined to virtual media due to prohibition on road shows and physical rallies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic escalated by the Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a virtual rally in UP, hailed the double-engine government for fast-paced development, slamming the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, holding door-to-door campaign in Mathura, tried to put the spotlight back on alleged “exodus” of Hindus from Kairana before 2017.

The BJP, while releasing the manifesto,  assured free electricity for irrigation, a job for every household and free travel for women over 60. It also promised a minimum 10-year sentence in cases of what it describes as “love jihad”.

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On the other hand, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav claimed that people have made up their mind to vote out the BJP from power. The SP-RLD alliance have from the start centered their electioneering on farmers’ issues and attacked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over poll promises.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav along with RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary. (PTI)

On Tuesday, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee came in support of Akhilesh and said that like West Bengal Assembly polls, UP will see a one-on-one fight between the BJP and the Samajwadi Party with Akhilesh emerging victorious.

At the joint press conference, Banerjee tweaked the “khela hobe’ campaign anthem of her party for last year’s Assembly polls to ‘Khela Hoga’ (the game is on) and stressed that if “Bengal can do it (defeat BJP), so can Uttar Pradesh”.

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After defeating the BJP in the high-octane assembly polls in her state last year, Banerjee said, “If Yogi (Adityanath) Ji comes to power, he will eat you up politically as well as economically.”

“He does not know anything and hence he is going (away). Let him go. A person, who wants to go should be allowed to go.”

The Congress under the leadership of its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also generated interest as seen in road shows and door-to-door campaigning by her.

The Congress, led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has held a number of events focused on women in Uttar Pradesh. (PTI)

Meanwhile, BSP chief Mayawati, who started campaigning late, reminded people of her government’s track record on law and order in the past. Although the main fight for UP is believed to be between the BJP and the SP-RLD, the BSP too has its influence on some seats in the first phase.

Last time, the BJP bagged 53 of the 58 seats while the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj party got two seats each. One seat went to the Rashtriya Lok Dal.

(With inputs from PTI)

First published on: 08-02-2022 at 22:28 IST
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