The first of the seven phases of UP Assembly polls, on Saturday (February 11), would decide the fate of 839 candidates, in 73 seats. It’s a make or break for all parties in the electoral fray. Modi in Bijnor announced several packages including creating a Chaudhary Charan Singh Welfare Fund of Rs. 800 crore and forgoing loan of small farmers. Smart phones and homes for poor are the SP-Congress Common Minimum Programme (CMP). Some of the main candidates in the first phase of polling are Rajnath Singh’s son, Pankaj Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son-in-law, Rahul Yadav, and BJP’s controversial leader, Sangeet Som. Meanwhile, recently Punjab and Goa went to assembly polls last week where a record 83 per cent voted in Goa, while there was a voter turnout of 70% in Punjab. In Goa, the ruling BJP is engaged in a fierce fight with the Opposition Congress, AAP and an alliance of MGP (Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party), Shiv Sena and GSM (Goa Suraksha Manch) for the 40-member House; while in Punjab there is a high-stake contest between the Congress, new entrant AAP and ruling SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal)-BJP combine. Beginning today, our Associate Editor, Navodita, will take a look at the Assembly Polls, in five states. Here’s a report, as UP goes to poll in the first phase, exclusively for Different Truths.
As Uttar Pradesh went to polls in the first phase of elections in the state amidst tight security, speculations are on as to who would be the next CM. Will anti-incumbency play its part, will the Muslim vote matter, and will the Congress-SP alliance bear fruit and so on. While politicians are busy addressing rallies all across the state, Modi in Bijnor announced several packages including creating a Chaudhary Charan Singh Welfare Fund of Rs. 800 crore and forgoing loan of small farmers. Is this just a pre-election announcement to rake in votes or a scheme that will be implemented, we are yet to see. Similarly, Dimple Yadav’s rally, in Agra, attracted huge crowds where she campaigned for three women candidates from Samajwadi Party, including Jaya Bachchan.
So as 73 constituencies went to polls on Saturday (Feb 11), some of the main candidates in the first phase of polling are Rajnath Singh’s son, Pankaj Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son-in-law, Rahul Yadav, and BJP’s controversial leader, Sangeet Som. The polling exercise includes important political nerve points like Kairana (Shamli), Noida, Meerut, Agra, Muzaffarnagar, Dadri (Ghaziabad), etc. While Pankaj Singh managed to get a ticket from Noida, Sangeet Som will be contesting from Sardhana. He is an accused in Muzaffarnagar riots and is known for his explosive remarks on ‘love jihad’ and ‘Kairana exodus’. SP’s Rahul Yadav will garner much attention, as he is contesting from Sikandrabad seat, in Bulandshahar district.
Why these UP elections are all the more important is because these are being considered as the harbinger Moreover, behind the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Mayawati, their Dalit vote bank is unwavering. With a solid Dalit vote bank behind it, the party only needs to get the ‘additional’ factor right to emerge victorious in any election. The additional factor could be in the form of Muslims or upper castes or both. Rahul Gandhi’s famous visits to Dalit houses have not endeared him or the Congress to the community. The BJP’s desperate effort to build bridges with it has also not yielded a positive result. Remember party president Amit Shah taking the holy dip- Samrasta Snan – with Dalits at the Simhasta Mahakumbh in Ujjain last year? Or his meal at a Dalit home in a Varanasi village? Or his party’s effort to appropriate Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s legacy? Now, both parties have given up. This phase is crucial, as the voting trend in western Uttar Pradesh will have a ripple effect across the state.
Meanwhile, recently Punjab and Goa went to assembly polls last week where a record 83 per cent voted in Goa, while there was a voter turnout of 70% in Punjab. In Goa, the ruling BJP is engaged in a fierce fight with the Opposition Congress, AAP and an alliance of MGP (Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party), Shiv Sena and GSM (Goa Suraksha Manch) for the 40-member House; while in Punjab there is a high-stake contest between the Congress, new entrant AAP and ruling SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal)-BJP combine.
The key personalities in this election fray in Goa are Laxmikant Parsekar, Subhash Velingkar, Elvis Golmes, Luizinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat. While Parsekar is three-term MLA from Mandrem and will be leading ruling BJP’s charge, Elvis Golmes is former civil servant-turned-politician, who joined AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) after taking voluntary retirement, in July 2016. While his campaign is lacking in luster, he was named as party’s chief ministerial candidate by none other than the party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. Luizinho Faleiro, on the other hand, is the Congress state unit president and two-time chief minister and is Congress’ answer to BJP’s Manohar Parrikar. In the last few weeks, Faleiro, through a clever selection of candidates and out-manoeuvring aggressive alliance-seeking parties, has helped the party gain lost ground, which was in tatters since 2012. However, in these elections, both in Punjab and Goa, the AAP’s emergence as a formidable force in states is something to look out for. This election may be paving way for this party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
If the BJP wins in these elections it will credit the success to PM Modi’s ban on 500-and-1000-rupee notes in November, aimed at eliminating black money. Opposition parties have attacked it on demonetisation, accusing it of pushing the poor into deeper distress with the cash crunch and slowdown of economic activity that has followed. How AAP fares is being watched with keen interest as the four-year-old party attempts to extend its influence beyond Delhi, where it swept assembly elections two years ago. It was appreciated for its odd-even scheme and reduction of water and electricity bills. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal made a vote appeal to Punjab in Gurmukhi, while campaigning. The Akali Dal-BJP alliance has ruled Punjab for two straight terms, ten years, and both the Congress and AAP hope to benefit from an anti-incumbency sentiment. Bhagwant Mann and Sukhbir Badal are some key contenders in Punjab elections this year.
Photos from the internet.
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Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24×7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.