Backwards will decide winner in U.P. polls

Brij Bhardwaj
Out of five States going to polls, elections in U.P. are evoking maximum interest. Not only is U.P. the largest State, but it also elects over eighty members to Lok Sabha and many feel to come to power in India winning U.P. is necessary. Polls in U.P. are always full of surprises. For instance, calculations made on basis of votes polled by political parties in previous elections do not materialise when they join hands as they are unable to transfer votes to candidates of alliance partner.
In 2017 polls Samajwadi Party and Congress came together, but performed badly with Samajwadi party tally reduced to double figures and, Congress did not touch even double figures. BJP got huge majority by winning over 300 seats in Assembly where the total strength is 405. In 2019 Samajwadi Party and BSP joined hands. Both had polled twenty per cent of total votes polled in Assembly elections but performed miserably with BJP winning 76 seats out of a total of 80 for Lok Sabha.
In the current polls Samajwadi Party has joined hands with half a dozen parties representing different castes including Jats and backward classes. Three Ministers in U.P. and a dozen MLA’s belonging to backward community have left BJP and joined Samajwadi Party. It may be mentioned that out off 300 BJP members in State Assembly over 100 belonged to backward classes and they were responsible for BJP doing so well in polls for State Assembly and for Lok Sabha.
The big question being asked this time is : will all those who have joined Samajwadi Party be able to transfer votes of their respective communities to SP nominees. To counter plans of the Samajwadi Party, BJP has given tickets to large number of candidates belonging to backward communities. In the first list of candidates announced by BJP over 40 belonged to backward castes. This trend was maintained in subsequent lists announced by them.
A lot in U.P. polls depends on how backwards will vote. Overall percentage of voters belonging to backwards is nearly half of the total electorate. Samajwadi Party has the support of Yadavs who constitute about 10 per cent of total. How will other backwards vote? Will they follow ministers’ who have left BJP and joined Samajwadi Party or vote for candidates belonging to backward community selected by BJP.
The other issues in the polls is the development card being played by BJP, like roads and toilets built by them and free rations provided to unemployed and poor. Opposition is raising issues like unemployment and mismanagement during Covid. BJP is also playing Mandir issue and better law and order. The backward community leaders claim they were made Ministers but denied power to take decisions as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath maintained a tight grip over bureaucrats in the State.
With large rallies out BJP will have advantage with large number of dedicated workers and resources for virtual campaign. While main fight is between BJP and Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, with its hold on Dalits and Congress on whose behalf Priyanka Gandhi is playing women’s’ card will also get few seats. They will have a role in case there is a hung Assembly. Many are wondering if in the current situation there will be hung Assembly or a clear majority for BJP or Samajwadi Party. I for one having watched and covered many elections in U.P. where I spent over a decade, feel it will be a decisive verdict.
No single party may get 300 seats but a clear majority with over 200 to 250 seats is most likely. Election result in U.P. will have major impact on coming polls for Lok Sabha in 2024. It will decide not only the strategy of BJP but also Opposition parties. Will they unite to fight BJP or remain a divided house. For Congress a minor player in U.P , result of polls in Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand will be more important, It will decide who will be a major Opposition party in Lok Sabha polls as Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress are keen to occupy place in Opposition ranks as a major player.