n just about three months, India will voice its opinion if Narendra Modi will stay for another term or there will be a new face to hold the reins of the country. In view of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the political parties are busy rearranging their organisations in order to bring forth faces that have the potential to win elections. The party leadership is also under deep pressure to repeat 2014 polls performance or give even the best in UP. Meanwhile, internal politics is at its peak in the BJP, where the candidature of both the current Agra and Mathura MPs Ram Shankar Katheria and Hema Malini are at stake. BJP needs real good faces that can challenge the Opposition and make it a huge win for the party. In a bid to win seats, they may have to show a way out to the sitting MPs who have earned the unpopularity among the people in their last term. The party leadership is also under stress to repeat or give even the best performance even as the Modi-magic appears to be on its faded side. Both Modi and Rajnath Singh won from Uttar Pradesh to assume the portfolios of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister but with the Samajwadi Party(SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance almost ready and the Congress also planning to join them, it will be a tough road ahead for the BJP.
BSP supremo Mayawati has already announced her candidates for Agra City and Fatehpur Sikri, while RLD may contest the Mathura seat. Samajwadi Party will soon announce its candidates for the rest of the districts in Braj region and it is quite probable that lacking ground support in this region, it is likely that the Congress will support the candidates fielded by the alliance. Katheria has been a two-time MP from Agra but, third time may not be the same for him as his popularity has fallen among the public. Besides, even in the party circles, the local leaders are trying to convince the party high command that fielding Katheria will be a losing proposition for the BJP. On the Mathura seat, the sitting MP Hema Malini is staking her claim for re-election asserting that she wants to finish the developmental work she had started in the region; however, looking at overall conduct of her as an MP, she has failed to win the confidence of the people. She might have been accepted as an actress but not as a politician; moreover, somehow, she has managed to sail on then Modi magic but this time it’s not the same scenario. UP Energy Minister and local MLA Shrikant Sharma, who was once seen as a chief ministerial candidate for the state, may stake his claim for the Agra ticket. In Firozabad and Mainpuri, votes could go in the favour of the alliance which will probably allot these seats to the SP candidates considering its popularity in the region.
In Fatehpur Sikri, sitting MP from the BJP Babulal Chaudhary has always been at loggerheads with the party leadership and could lose his ticket. Sources indicate that the Congress may field its UP President Raj Babbar from this seat while the BSP has announced the name of Seema Upadhyay, who has already been an MP from Fatehpur Sikri once. The BJP is still in search of a winning candidate. In the meantime, Congress is going to fight on all the 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh in 2019 Lok Sabha Polls. Whereas, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have agreed to contest on 38 seats each. Recently, Congress has done excellent in four core states of BJP and shunted them out of power. Rahul Gandhi is not only gaining popularity but he has also proven his potential. He has matured with the time and many regional parties have all their support for him. This is the first time in Indian politics that Congress is voluntarily supported and endorsed by many state-level regional parties. Somewhere, Modi has utterly failed on his “Congress-Mukt Bharat” slogan; rather people chose to throw BJP out of power straight by slapping against their arrogance. Congress has fully prepared for the elections. Congress emerged No. 1 party in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, maybe they will fight on their own and win twice those number of seats in the upcoming elections. In 2009, the Congress had won 21 seats in the state. No wonder if the other two regional giants have decided to contest 38 seats each out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. They will not contest Amethi and Raebareli. Although there is no formal alliance between SP-BSP and Congress, the decision to stay away from Amethi and Raebareli is significant since the two seats are old bastions of the Gandhi family. BJP’s Smriti Irani may contest against Rahul Gandhi but chances of her winning are very thin; whereas, the Raebareli voters may hardly switch their loyalties to other political parties. The two alliance leaders also made it clear that the alliance would continue till the next assembly elections in the state. The alliance is likely to be a cause of worry for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had not only swept the state during the 2014 general elections, catapulting it to a historic mandate in Lok Sabha, but had also won the assembly elections in the state with a thumping majority. On a broader note, other regional Opposition parties such as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) congratulated Mayawati and Yadav, on coming together for an electoral alliance. The BJP is also a little worried about them coming together. The entire focus is that if these two parties come together, there could be an amalgamation of OBC, Dalits, and Muslim votes. If these three segments get together, there could be a potential challenge to the BJP in UP. That is why at this moment this new development appears to be important for everybody. In the 2017 assembly election, the BJP benefited from development schemes like Ujjwala Yojana providing free cooking gas. Will it repeat the same now with more developmental projects is not sure, because the killings in the name of cow and Yogi Adityanath’s motor mouth statements have hurt many of his voters? The lower middle class have their own concept of development, the middle class has its own and so does the higher class. When it comes to pumping money in developmental projects, one segment which really benefits is the bureaucracy. There is rampant corruption in UP. It is very difficult to handle corruption in UP under BJP government too. The Prime Minister’s image is another issue, right now the focus is whether this alliance on the ground stands or not. Interesting to see how regional starwort kicks out the ruling party and shunt their chances ahead.
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