Elections 2020

Uttar Pradesh Voting Begins Today, From Hub Of Farmers’ Protest: 10 Points

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Polls have begun. They are considered as semi finals before the general election of 2024. 58 constituencies in the crucial western part of the state, the hub of farmers’ protest, go to polls amid a four-cornered contest.

The prominent candidates in the first phase are Pankaj Singh, sitting MLA from Noida and son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Baby Rani Maurya, former Uttarakhand governor who is contesting from Agra Rural.

EVM machine broke down at booth number 343 of Vasantika School, Sector 9, Meerut. Long queues of people who came to vote. Administrative staff engaged in changing EVMs.

Polling process has started at all booths. Some complaints regarding EVMs received from some random booths, we are replacing those machines and resolving their matter. Peaceful polling underway, no law & order situation anywhere: Jasjit Kaur, Shamli DM

While the BJP won in 2017 with a sweeping mandate, this election is expected to be a referendum on the government of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has been criticised over his handling of the second wave of Covid. Rural Uttar Pradesh was hit hard and images of bodies floating down Ganga and buried on its sandbanks, had shocked the country.

The big challenger of the BJP is the rainbow coalition led by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who has augmented his Muslim-Yadav support base with small parties that command a following among the Other Backward Classes. His key ally is Jayant Chaudhary of Rashtriya Lok Dal, whose supporters have influence on more than 30 seats.

The election is also expected to be a test for the Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was tasked with winning UP by her brother Rahul Gandhi four years ago. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, which has a big support base among the Dalits — who can have an impact on the results across 20 seats — is also in the running.

The area – where voting patterns had largely changed since the Muzaffarnagar violence of 2013 — has seen a polarised campaign. The BJP’s chief strategist Amit Shah had campaigned in Kairana, the Ground Zero of an alleged Hindu exodus in 2016. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has repeatedly accused the opposition Samajwadi Party of being supporters of Pakistan.

While the BJP won 91 per cent of the 58 seats in the region in the 2017 elections, many believe in the possibility of a backlash by farmers in the aftermath of the protests over farm laws. After farmer leader Rakesh Tikait gave a call to punish the BJP, it was echoed by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer unions.

In the run-up to the election, Jayant Chaudhary had claimed that Amit Shah had repeatedly tried to lure him to the BJP and break up the opposition alliance. In his speeches, Mr Shah has repeatedly warned the Jat leader that he has chosen a “wrong home”.

In an interview to news agency ANI on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dismissed the opposition alliance as the “game of two boys we have seen before”. “They accepted us in 2014, 2017 and 2019. They’ll accept us in 2022 after seeing our work,” he said.

The counting of votes will be held on March 10. Results for election in four other states — Goa, Manipur, Punjab, and Uttarakhand — will also be announced the same day.

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