TODAY -

All eyes on UP battle
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: May 20, 2024 -



WITH the stage set for the fifth phase of election to the 18th Lok Sabha election, voters in 49 parliamentary constituencies across six states and two union territories would be exercising their franchise to elect representatives to the lower house of Indian Parliament on May 20.

Of the 49 parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh (14), Maharashtra (13), West Bengal (7), Bihar (5), Odisha (5), Jharkhand (3), Jammu and Kashmir (1) and Ladakh (1), which will go to polls in the fifth phase; the attention of the entire nation is going to be focused on the 14 parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh where the fate of not only four union ministers and seven sitting Lok Sabha MPs of the ruling Bharatiya, Janata Party (BJP), but also of the opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi would be decided.

Besides Defence Minister RajnathSingh, who is eyeing for a fourth term from Lucknow; Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Kaushal Kishore and Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti are in the fray to retain their respective seats from Amethi, Mohanlalganj and Fatehpur parliamentary constituencies.

Except for the Barabanki (SC) and Kaisarganj parliamentary constituencies, where fresh candidates have been fielded, the saffron party has given tickets to 11 of its sitting Lok Sabha MPs in this phase of election.

So, this is an important round of the seven-phase 18th Lok Sabha election for the BJP as had also been witnessed in its aggressive campaigning till the very last minute allowed for canvassing by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The performance of the saffron party in this round is going to be an important indicator in deciding whether the arithmetic of securing 370 seats on its own and crossing the 400-mark with its allies tallies up or not.

Being the most populous state with 80 parliamentary seats, the highest representation in the 543-member Lok Sabha, every major political party in the country has positioned Uttar Pradesh at the centre of their electoral calculations.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP had won 71 seats out of the total 80 parliamentary constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, which was indeed a stupendous achievement but the number came down to 62 in the 2019 general election.

The alliance forged between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in that election was said to be reason for the BjP finding it difficulty in retaining some of its seats.

BSP got 10 seats and SP secured 5 seats then.

This time, Indian National Congress (INC), which managed to win only one seat in 2019, and Samajwadi Party (SP), an important ally of the opposition INDIA bloc, are trying hard to stop the BjP from returning to power.

SP has fielded candidates to contest in 63 seats while INC is making its electoral presence in 17 parliamentary constituencies including the Amethi and Raebareli seats, which are considered as bastions of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Interestingly, in place of its sitting MP and former chief Sonia Gandhi, who has represented the seat four times, INC has chosen to field her son Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli this time, leaving the charge of leading the electoral battle for Amethi to its loyalist and local man KL Sharma.

This decision of the party to shift Rahul Gandhi to Rae Bareli from Amethi, where he was defeated by Smriti Irani in the last election, has been seen as a calculated political move to protect the image of the Gandhi scion, who is also seeking re-election from southern Kerala state's Wayanad for which polling had already taken place in the second phase on April 26 last.

Well, all that we could say at the moment is, only time will tell how this political move work in favour of INC and its INDIA bloc in paving the way to New Delhi from UP.



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