Polling for the sixth phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017 began this morning. Electorates at 17,926 polling booths across 49 Assembly seats have already started queueing up amid tight security arrangements. Apart from SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency, focus is on assembly segments of Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency of BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, and Mau, where jailed gangster-turned-MLA Mukhtar Ansari is a favourite. The second last phase of polling will also cover some districts bordering Nepal. Around 1.72 crore voters, including 94.60 lakh men and 77.84 lakh women, are eligible to cast their votes in this round to decide the fate of 635 candidates.
Uttar Pradesh being the most populous state in the country holds an important position in national politics. The state offers maximum representation in both the Houses and hence, ongoing General Assembly Elections are said to be the ‘game-changer’. Bhartiya Janata Party has gone all out with their election rallies, campaigns, and marketing stints to woo the people. On BJP hoardings across UP, there are four state-level faces apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. Yet, none of them have been declared the chief ministerial candidate, even till now! And this fact might somewhere harm the votes for BJP, according to the Purvanchal locals.
It comes as no surprise that people want to vote for a face that they can connect with and trust. BJP has turned this parliamentary election into a presidential one, with Narendra Modi being their star campaigner. But residents also understand that this is just a game-play by Modi who want to play opportunistic politics without wanting to upset any community.
BJP is facing a dilemma and are being questioned by the public. Declaring a CM candidate at this stage would upset the carefully constructed social coalition of upper castes and non-Yadav OBCs that the four faces represent. Admits a party spokesperson, “If we make a Thakur the candidate, Brahmins and OBCs may move away; if we make a Maurya the face, the upper castes may get alienated. We have to be everything to everybody for now.”But what is also true is that the party does not have a strong local face in the same league as the others.“We do not have a local face to counter either Akhilesh or Mayawati, I admit. But we have Modiji. If we win, it will be in his name,” says an MLA from a Purvanchal constituency, as he visits different localities in his area. Whereas, others are saying that Modi and Shah, do not wish to see strong leaders emerging in different regions. And that is exactly what has happened. Plus, the lack of work done by Narendra Modi in his home constituency, Varanasi, makes him look worse. 15 years and still BJP does not have a face or development work to show in the state!
On the other hand, Akhilesh Yadav is still the favourite CM candidate and widely credited for the development done in Uttar Pradesh. This have been evident in his campaign rallies, as well, which have pulled in almost twice the crowd. He is humble, strong headed, and definitely here to stay.