In the second phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh Wednesday, the turnout was 65.16 per cent, matching the 65.17 per cent of 2012. Seat by seat, the turnout dropped in 31 while rising in the rest. What stood out was lower voting in OBC-dominated seats as well as those where the upper castes are the dominant population. Out of 19 OBC-dominated seats, the turnout dropped in 11. In these OBC-dominated seats, floating votes have often proved decisive in past elections. Out of 14 dominated by the upper castes; the turnout dropped in nine. Of the 67 seats, the SP won 34 in 2012. The BSP won 18, the BJP 10 and the Congress 3, with the remaining two won by the Peace Party and the Ittehad-E-Millait Council. In the following breakup, the total exceeds 67 because a few of the reserved seats are simultaneously being counted in other sections, based on the dominant population.
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Where OBCs count
Of the 19 seats dominated by OBCs such as Mauryas, Lodhis, Kurmis, Yadavs and Kumhars, nearly all are in agriculture-dependent Terai. The BJP and the SP-Congress have both promised loan relief to farmers. Among the 11 seats where the turnout fell was Bisalpur, won by the BJP last time. From 71.3 per cent then, the turnout dropped 5.9 percentage points. Najibabad, where Sainis are the largest population, saw the turnout rise 6 points from nearly 62 per cent to nearly 68. In Hasanpur dominated by Khadagvanshis, the turnout dropped 2.7 percentage points. The sitting SP MLA is Kamal Akhtar; the BJP slogan here includes the phrase “Kamal banaam Kamaal”. In Tilhar , where the Congress’s Kunwar Jitin Prasad is contesting against sitting BSP MLA Roshan Lal Verma, the turnout fell 3 percentage points.
Thakurs, Vaishyas, Kayasths and Brahmins are the dominant population in 14 seats; the turnout dropped in nine, rose in five. In 2012, the SP and the BJP had won five seats each and the BSP four. Seats where the turnout decreased were Saharanpur Nagar, Thakurdwara, Faridpur, Bareilly, Bareilly Cantonment, Katra, Dadraul, Bilsi and Dataganj. “The BJP had won Saharanpur Nagar, Thakurdawra, Bareilly and Bareilly Cantonment which are dominated by the Vaishya and Kayasth communities. The impact of demonetisation could be a reason that some BJP supporters stayed away from polling,” guessed a BSP leader in Bareilly.
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In areas where the single largest population is Muslim, the 22 seats followed a mixed pattern: higher voting in 12, lower in 10. The steepest fall in turnout was 7.7 percentage points in Jalalabad where, interestingly, no prominent party has fielded a Muslim candidate. Thakurs are the second largest population here. The turnout fell 5.6 percentage points in both Bhojipura and Nawabganj, and 4.5 points in Nakur. In Bhojipura, the SP, the BSP and the IEMC have fielded Muslim candidates. Shazil Islam, the sitting IEMC MLA, is now SP candidate. Nawabganj has five Muslim candidates including one each of the RLD and the IEMC; the SP, the BSP, the BJP and even the Peace Party have Hindu candidates. Nakur, also Muslim-dominated, recorded 72.5 per cent, the highest turnout among all 67 seats, but this was still 4.5 percentage points under the 2012 turnout. Only the Congress has fielded a Muslim candidate. Imran Masood, who had lost narrowly in 2012, has the SP with him this time. The turnout rose 7.6 percentage points in Suar to reach 69.62%. Four of the candidates are Muslim, including SP leader Azam Khan’s son Abdullah and Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, Congress-MLA-turned-BSP-candidate. In Azam Khan’s Rampur, where all but the BJP have fielded Muslims, the turnout rose 5.21 percentage points. It rose four percentage points in Deoband.
12 reserved seats, higher turnout in nine. The highest rise of 4.29 percentage points was in Bisauli (62.14% this time). Former BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha has fielded a candidate here. Powayan registered a turnout of 58.5 per cent, a decline of 6.8 percentage points. Rampur Maniharan and Faridpur were the other two seats where the turnout fell. Leaders of various political parties attribute the drop in these three seats to migration; many Dalits there own no land for farming. Most voters being non-Jatav, their absence has made it a closer fight among SP, BSP and BJP.
Only four constituencies are Jat-dominated — Bijnor, Chandpur, Dhanaura and Kanth — with Muslims the second largest populations. The turnout rose in all four. Last week, Jat teenager Vishal of Bijnor was killed following a political argument. Here, the turnout increased by 2.6 points to reach 68.45 per cent. The BJP candidate is a Jat, the SP has fielded its sitting MLA Ruchi Veera and the BSP has a Muslim candidate.