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Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

UP Assembly elections: SP-RLD alliance, minority votes could hold key to 55 seats

In 2017, the region — which has western UP districts such as Moradabad, Saharanpur, Bijnore, Amroha and districts towards central UP such as Badaun and Shahjahanpur — saw the BJP getting the maximum seats (38 out of 55) as the party rode a Modi wave and a bitterly polarised campaign.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the SP, BSP and RLD contested collectively, the BSP had won four of the 11 seats — Amroha, Bijnor, Nagina and Saharanpur — while SP won Rampur, Moradabad and Sambhal. These seven seats cover at least 35 Assembly constituencies.Saharanpur, one of the seats that votes in Phase 2, witnessed a major political development on Monday when senior Congress leader Imran Masood crossed over to the SP. (File)

The 55 seats in Uttar Pradesh that go to the polls on February 14, in the second phase of the Assembly elections, appear to be more challenging for the BJP than those in Phase 1 given the region’s significant Muslim and Dalit population, the coming together of the SP and the RLD, and the performance of Opposition parties in past elections.

In 2017, the region — which has western UP districts such as Moradabad, Saharanpur, Bijnore, Amroha and districts towards central UP such as Badaun and Shahjahanpur — saw the BJP getting the maximum seats (38 out of 55) as the party rode a Modi wave and a bitterly polarised campaign. The Samajwadi Party (SP) won 15 seats in 2017, the Congress as an ally of the SP won two seats, while the BSP drew a blank. A total of 11 Muslim candidates won from the region — all from SP. The Akhilesh Yadav-led SP was runner-up on 27 seats, the BJP on 13 and the BSP on 11. In 2012, when the SP won a majority in the state, it won 27 seats in this region and the BJP eight.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when the SP, BSP and RLD contested collectively, the BSP had won four of the 11 seats — Amroha, Bijnor, Nagina and Saharanpur — while SP won Rampur, Moradabad and Sambhal. These seven seats cover at least 35 Assembly constituencies.

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This region has a significant presence of Dalit and Muslim communities while Jats and OBC communities are scattered across constituencies. Badaun, which has a significant Yadav population, is considered an SP stronghold.

“The BJP won the highest number of seats in 2017 because then there was a pro-Modi wave and strong communal polarisation in all of western UP. But the situation is different now. Farmers are upset with the BJP due to non-procurement of their crops and delay in payment of sugarcane dues. The public is fed up with corruption at the police station level. Unemployment is a major issue too,” said Nawab Jan, SP MLA from Thakurdwara in Moradabad district. The six seats that are part of Moradabad district had in 2017 sent four SP MLAs (all Muslims) and two BJP MLAs to the Assembly.

Saharanpur, one of the seats that votes in Phase 2, witnessed a major political development on Monday when senior Congress leader Imran Masood crossed over to the SP. Masood — who holds influence over Saharanpur’s 42 per cent Muslim population — had lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election to the BSP. Another significant seat in the region is Deoband, where the BJP’s Brajesh had won in 2017, defeating Majid Ali of the BSP and Mavia Ali of the SP. Recently, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath laid the foundation stone for an Anti-Terror Squad training centre in Deoband, home to Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband, and claimed that the centre would “finish off terrorists”.

The SP bastion of Rampur is also set to vote on February 14. In 2017, SP’s Azam Khan won from here for his eighth term, before getting elected to the Lok Sabha from Rampur in 2019. His wife Tazeen Fatima is the sitting MLA.

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In Badaun district, the BJP received a jolt on Monday when party MLA from Bilsi, R K Sharma, joined the SP. Badaun has been an SP stronghold in the past but in 2017, the BJP won five of the six seats here.

Shahjahanpur is another significant district in the region where Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently laid the foundation stone for an ambitious 594-km Ganga Expressway. In 2017, BJP won five seats in Shahjahanpur, barring Jalalabad, where Adityanath visited a few weeks ago as part of the BJP’s special focus on seats the party lost in 2017.

First published on: 12-01-2022 at 03:06:47 am
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