Lucknow: The BJP in Uttar Pradesh is set to be inching closer to its 2014 victory in Uttar Pradesh, early trends till 10:15 am predict. Of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the party is leading on 55 while the SP-BSP-RLD alliance is leading in just 23 constituencies.
The seats going in BJP’s favour include Gorakhpur, where Bhojpuri star and BJP candidate Ravi Kishan is leading, Lucknow, where union home minister Rajnath Singh is ahead, and Varanasi, where PM Narendra Modi is in the lead with around 50,000 votes.
The Congress, meanwhile, is finding it tough to make a mark in the initial vote assessment. In the two Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are both trailing.
Among the seats where the alliance is leading are those contested by top Samajwadi Party leaders — SP president Akhilesh Yadav in Azamgarh, his wife Dimple Yadav in Kannauj, and his father and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri.
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Arithmetic versus chemistry
The last general elections in UP had seen the BJP and its ally Apna Dal sweeping the state by winning 73 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats. While the BSP could not win a single constituency, the SP had managed to bag five seats and the Congress two. However, a closer look at the distribution of votes in the seats won by the BJP and its ally showed that in at least 39 seats, the combination of SP-BSP votes had been more than those polled in favour of the winner.
In the 2018 by-elections in Phulpur, Gorakhpur and Kairana, the two parties put their alliance formula to test, after 24 years of bitter rivalry, and the results ended up in their favour.
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The alliance, presented as an anti-BJP front in these Lok Sabha elections, was expected to witness a consolidation of votes from the backward, Dalit and Jat communities. In a state where around 40 per cent of the population are OBCs, 20 per cent Dalits and 19 per cent Muslims, the alliance was designed to upset BJP’s stellar performance in 2014.
But if the initial trends continue, the gathbandhan seems to have faltered in defeating the BJP, unable to override the Modi factor with its caste arithmetic.
On the ground, while nationalism, Modi and development remained important factors among traditional BJP voters, the BJP’s schemes like PM-KISAN, Ujjwala, Saubhagya electrification programme and the BJP-led state government’s efforts to improve law and order found popularity across communities.
In certain quarters, however, unemployment and agrarian distress, especially for sugarcane and potato farmers of western UP, were major concerns working against the BJP.
In 2014, elections had taken place in a tense communally charged atmosphere in the state owing to the Muzaffarnagar riots. Anti-incumbency had worked in favour of the BJP last time.
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