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UP Election: Will it be a BJP vs SP battle?
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UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath & Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav (file photos)

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UP Election: Will it be a BJP vs SP battle?

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Lucknow: As the poll campaign intensifies in Uttar Pradesh, the contest gives indications of narrowing down to one between the ruling BJP and the chief Opposition Samajwadi party (SP). All the same the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by former chief minister Mayawati, intervenes to say that their party is not to be dismissed that easily in the grand old state. The Congress, albeit a much weakened force now from hat it was in the state, led by Priyanka Gandhi seems to pin hopes on women's votes and hopes to poll more votes.

It is all too clear that the pronouncements from the BJP camp, from prime minister Narendra Modi down to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, target SP as the main protagonist. Though using the garb with its development frills, this time again the BJP's trump card is its divisive agenda. In UP, which has not had a second term for any party for 35 years, the Hindutva outfit seems to pin hopes on allying with certain backward community parties to clinch a continuation of government. Such allies include Apna Dal (Sonelal) and Nishad Party.

On the other hand, SP is not far behind the BJP in strategy and its challenge to the Goliath of BJP is thrown by forming a rainbow coalition. Former BJP ally Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj party of Om Prakash Rajbhar, Rashtriya Lok Dal, and even the parallel SP entity, Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) of Akhilesh's uncle Shiv Pal Yadav, who had fallen out with Mulayam Singh Yadav, are all allied with SP this time.

With a declaration that 40 per cent of seats will be reserved for women, the Congress and leader Priyanka Gandhi is calculating that it can upset the caste-community equations through such popular steps and make gains. Certainly it is crucial for the Congress to win in the assembly seats of party chief Sonia Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency of Rae Bareli as also Amethi which had let down Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 LS election.

BSP's Mayawati, though not in an active campaign mode so far either face to face or digital, is still hopeful that the votes of the Dalits that form 20 percent of the population will safely fall under its tally. Significantly, in the assembly that has 403 seats, 86 seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Also in the fray in the UP elections, seen generally as the semi-final of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, are Aam Aadmi Party and Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM, both focusing on registering a footprint in the state's politics.

In the background of President's election coming up in July, the share of seats in the most populous state with the most of number of legislators is crucial for the BJP and for other parties. The decision of Trinamool Congress is to lend support to Akhilesh Yadav. So is that of the CPI-M.

But even with such consolidation of keyanti-BJP forces, BJP spokesman Manish Shukla claims that others will only make claims and that the party will romp to power again with an increase in seat tally from the 325 of 2017. That optimism is implicitly dismissed by SP's spokesman Ashutosh Sinha who is convinced that the situation has changed now and that the voters are disenchanted with the current ruling dispensation for more reasons than one.

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TAGS:UP electionBJPSamajwadipartyAkhilesh Yadav
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