UP’s Yadav heartland set to seal fate of SP, BJP in third phase of UP polls slated for February 20

If Samajwadi Party manages to retain its Yadav base in view of the compromise between Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP seems set to be ejected from power in Uttar Pradesh

UP’s Yadav heartland set to seal fate of SP, BJP in third phase of UP polls slated for February 20

Saiyed Zegham Murtaza

The next battleground in the ongoing assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh is the region often labeled as the ‘Yadav fortress’. While the Samajwadi Party-led alliance may look to consolidate its gains from the first two phases, it will be interesting to see whether the Yadav electorate accepts the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav.

On February 20, 59 seats spread across 16 districts will go to poll. Out of these, 19 seats spread over the districts of Mainpuri, Etah, Kasganj, Hathras and Firozabad will go to the polls.

Also, voters residing in 27 assembly constituencies of Kanpur, Kanpur Rural, Farrukhabad, Oraiya, Etawah and Kannauj and 13 in Budelkhand region i.e. the districts of Jhansi, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Lalitpur, and Mahoba will elect their representatives.

Prominent candidates in this phase include the Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav from Karhal (Mainpuri), Union minister SP Singh Baghel from Karahal (Mainpuri), Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother and former minister Shivpal Yadav from Jaswant Nagar (Etawah), former minister Ramvir Upadhayay from Sadabad (Hathras), Luis Khursheed, wife of former Union minister Salman Khursheed from Farrukhabad, and former IPS officer Asim Arun from Kannauj.

Both for the Samajwadi Party and BJP-led alliances, this phase is the most critical one.

For BJP, it will be an uphill task to keep its hold on 49 seats it won in 2017 elections intact. For Akhilesh, it will be the first test of acceptability among the Yadav electorate after the debacle of 2017.

The Yadav voters were split then due to the infight in Mulayam’s family and most of them preferred to join the BJP after Shivpal Yadav was ousted from the Samajwadi Party. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls also, the BJP benefitted from the family feud.

The third phase of polling will also be a litmus test for the Muslim-Yadav voters for the first time in this election. Since 2017, Yadav voters have preferred to vote in the name of caste, instead for the party. This left many Muslim candidates losing elections at Yadav-dominated booths.

If the Samajwadi Party is to maintain the momentum it seems to have gained during the first two phases, it will be counting on not only Muslim and Yadav voters to vote for it but also some of the non-Yadav OBCs.

This phase may also offer the best opportunity for the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party. Jalaun, Kalpi, Orai, Hamirpur, Banda and Hathras have been BSP strongholds for years. This time too, the party is trying to make a triangular fight on most of the seats in Bundelkhand and the remaining seats of Brig region.

The Congress is also expecting better results in this phase and will look to add to its tally of two seats it won during the 2017 elections.

Whoever comes triumphant in the third phase, it is the BJP which stands to lose. Out of 59 seats going to polls, the BJP won 49 in the 2017 elections. This time, it is expected that the ruling party will suffer losses in these 16 districts.

The question is, who will come out as the winner. While the BSP and the Congress are looking to looking to emerge as parties that will play a significant role after the poll results are out, the Samajwadi Party-led alliance is looking forward to major gains from these 59 seats going to the polls.

If the party remains successful in retaining its Yadav base after the compromise between Shivpal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP’s game may well be over after the voting in the third phase concludes on February 20.

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Published: 17 Feb 2022, 8:22 AM