Seventy-three seats spread across 15 districts of Uttar Pradesh will go to vote on Saturday, the first round of poll in country’s most populous state.
It is perceived as a “make or break election” for all the four coalitions in the fray. Here are four reasons why the first round is the most crucial of all phases:
For Bahujan Samaj Party
Traditionally it was a BSP stronghold, but the party conceded ground to the Samajwadi Party in 2012 assembly polls and to the BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Performance of Mayawati’s party in these seats will decide whether or not she gets to become next CM. As election progresses, it will become tougher for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to win seats in SP stronghold areas.
For Samajwadi Party
Akhilesh Yadav’s dream run in 2012 saw him picking up seats in these districts.
Social equation in these seats – significant presence of Jat, Dalit and Muslim voters– was never favourable for the SP, but a wave in favour of Akhilesh helped his party to do well in this pocket in the last assembly elections.
If Akhilesh fumbles this time in this region, making up for the loss in rest of UP will be an ardent task.
For Bhartiya Janata Party
The BJP swept this region, winning all Lok Sabha seats in 2014. Even otherwise, most of its total tally of 50-odd seats between 2002 and 2012 came from this region. If the BJP fails to keep intact the popular support it got in 2014, forming a government on its own would prove to be a distant dream.
There are many regions, such as Awadh and Bundelkhand, where the BJP is expected to take a hit compared to its 2014 performance.
For Rashtriya Lok Dal
Veteran Jat leader Ajit Singh’s RLD of lost its turf to the BJP in 2014. Singh is hoping his community would return to the RLD fold this time. If Singh has to emerge as a kingmaker in Uttar Pradesh, his party will have to regain ground in the area. Otherwise, it will be a serious existential crisis for him and his party.