Battle for UP: Countdown to Assembly polls begins in Agra region

As the final round of campaigning comes to an end on Tuesday evening in Agra and Mathura districts of UP, candidates of all parties have thrown in all their resources to mobilise their voters

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IANS

As the final round of campaigning comes to an end on Tuesday evening in Agra and Mathura districts of Uttar Pradesh, candidates of all parties have thrown in all their resources to mobilise their voters.

The first round of state poll will be a decider, as it would set the momentum for the next six rounds, say poll watchers in Agra.

Nine Assembly constituencies, with sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs, go to the polls on February 10. The campaigning will end on February 8 evening, the polling duty staff will move on Wednesday for the 3,911 booths. For the nine Assembly constituencies, there are 34.61 lakh voters and 107 candidates.

Samajwadi Party (SP) Chief Akhilesh Yadav with his new alliance partner Jayant Chaudhary, RLD President, have been campaigning hard in the rural segments. The BJP has all the stalwarts from Amit Shah, Hema Malini to Rajnath Singh, J.P. Nadda, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with the two deputy Chief Ministers -- Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma campaigning in the area.

"Undoubtedly this has been one of the most fierce electoral battles, with no holds barred, and the outcome could be anybody's guess, given the specifics of the rapidly shifting political contours," says political commentator Paras Nath Choudhary.

Most observers of the political scene in this area agree that there has been a massive caste and community polarisation which tends to push the developmental debate in the background.

"Clearly, the Muslims are united and are expected to vote together for the winning anti-BJP candidate, who will in all probability, get the support from the dominant Yadav community," according to poll watcher Rahul Raj.

In Agra, until now the loyal Agarwal community stands divided with a section openly challenging the BJP candidates. The numerically strong Agarwal community had demanded a few tickets, at least two of the nine in Agra district, but the party chose to field Purushottam Khandelwal and Yogendra Yadav.


Former Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya has been fielded from the Agra Rural Assembly constituency. For the Etmadpur Assembly constituency, the BJP placed faith in a last minute defector Dharam Pal.

Another surprise was in store when the BJP fielded local MP and a Union Minister of State, S.P. Singh Baghel, from Karhal in Mainpuri district, against SP's Akhilesh Yadav. Obviously Baghel has nothing much to lose except causing anxious moments to Akhilesh, who insiders say, will find himself a bit tied down.

Due to Covid-19 protocol and a set of restrictions, campaigning has been severely hampered. The continuing cold wave conditions, too, added to the challenges for the candidates.

"We witnessed a lot of confusion and uncertainty till the last minute in the distribution of tickets by all parties. Defectors were warmly welcomed and a low level of public discourse with a markedly communal flavour has been the trend. All parties must share the blame," said social activist Sudhir Gupta.

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