The sixth phase of the elections in Uttar Pradesh held on Thursday, 3 March, witnessed 55.70 percent polling. Voting took place in 57 Assembly segments, spread across ten districts of eastern UP. In 2017, these seats had witnessed 56.28 percent polling, while in 2012, the poll percentage was 54.9 percent.
The fate of incumbent Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and many of his ministers has been sealed by the voters in the sixth phase. The political might of “turncoat” Swami Prasad Maurya and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) chief Om Prakash Rajbhar was also put to test in this phase.
Let’s understand the story of the sixth phase as indicated by voting patterns.
In the sixth phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Ambedkar Nagar witnessed 58 percent of polling, while voter turnout was 51 percent in Balia, 48 percent in Balrampur, 54 percent in Basti, 51 percent in Deoria, 53 percent in Gorakhpur, 55 percent in Kushinagar, 57 percent in Maharajganj, 51 percent in Sant Kabir Nagar, and 49 percent in Siddharth Nagar.
In the first phase, UP witnessed 62.43 percent polling, followed by 64.66 percent in the second phase, 62.28 percent in the third phase, 62.76 percent in the fourth phase, and 55 percent in the fifth phase.
Bumper Polling in Dalit-Dominated Areas
The sixth phase saw polling in ten districts, of which Ambedkar Nagar, Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, and Basti are districts with more than 20 percent SC votes. Ambedkar Nagar witnessed bumper polling with a 59 percent turnout, five percent more in comparison to other districts that went to poll in this phase.
Ambedkar Nagar district has five Assembly segments, namely Katehari, Tanda, Alapur, Jalalpur, and Akbarpur. In 2017, BSP had managed to win three seats despite the Modi wave, while the BJP had won the seats of Tanda and Alapur, although with a slender margin. The SP was the runner-up on the seats where BJP had won in 2017.
In 2012, all five seats of Ambedkar Nagar district were won by the SP while the BSP was the runner-up.
Maya Giving SP and BJP a Run for Their Money
The historical trends show the fight in Ambedkar Nagar as a showdown between the SP and the BSP. But the BJP has also become a serious contender after 2017.
Though the lack of ferocity in the BSP campaign was being talked about in the last five phases, the party has pitched firmly in the sixth phase to make the contest triangular. The trend was a common thread on all those seats where SC voters are in a sizeable chunk in the sixth phase.
Less Polling in Minority Dominated Areas
In the ten districts that went to polls in the sixth phase, Balrampur has 37 percent minority voters while Siddharth Nagar and Sant Kabir Nagar have 30 percent and 24 percent Muslim voters, respectively. But voter turnout in Balrampur was least among all districts at 48 percent, while polling in Siddharth Nagar and Sant Kabir Nagar was 49 and 51 percent, respectively. All three minority-dominated districts witnessed lower turnout in the sixth phase.
The first five phases of the UP elections had shown that participation of voters in minority-dominated areas was comparatively higher, but the sixth phase defied the trend.
Balrampur was “home turf” of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, from where he won his first election in 1957 to reach Parliament. The area was considered a stronghold of Jan Sangh, but later the political equation changed beyond recognition.
All four seats in Balrampur district – namely Tulsipur, Gaisri, Utraula, and Balrampur Sadar were won by the BJP in 2017. The Congress and the BSP were runner-ups on two seats each. However, the SP had won all four seats in the district in the 2012 elections.
Strength of Turncoats
The might of many of the bigwigs who jumped ship to join the SP were tested in the sixth phase, including the biggest name, Swami Prasad Maurya. He was a candidate from the Fazilnagar seat in Kushinagar district which witnessed 56 percent polling. The seat had seen 55.3 percent polling in 2017, and 55 percent in 2012.
The higher turnout clearly hints at the enthusiasm of voters as Maurya was contesting from the seat.
But the question is – whether Maurya has been able to influence other seats in Kushinagar or not. The voter turnout in Padrauna and Kushinagar Sadar is more than that of Fazilnagar. One reason for the higher turnout in Padrauna could be the presence of RPN Singh as a BJP candidate.
Fazilnagar is considered a stronghold of the SP with the combined might of Kushwaha and Muslim voters. So, Maurya could win the seat easily but his influence on nearby Assembly segments is unlikely to have benefitted the SP, which the party chief Akhilesh Yadav had hoped for.
Yogi’s Seat Saw a Higher Turnout
Call it the “Yogi Effect”, or something else, the voter turnout on Gorakhpur Sadar seat was higher than the last two Assembly polls. The seat witnessed 52 percent polling while it was 46.2 percent in 2012 and 50.8 percent in 2017. It is clear that the presence of Yogi in the contest was a cause of enthusiasm for the voters.
But interestingly, Bansgaon and Chillupar also saw higher voter turnout than the last elections, while other Assembly segments of the nine seats in Gorakhpur district saw comparatively lesser polling. Chillupar, where Vinay Tiwari, the son of Harishankar Tiwari, a local muscleman and bête noire of Yogi, was in the contest, saw higher polling in comparison to the last two elections but lesser than other nearby seats in the sixth phase.
BSP Had Won Chillupar in 2017
Gorakhpur district is divided equally between urban and rural voters which form 52 and 48 percent of the electorate, respectively. The area has around 9 percent of minority voters but the percentage of SCs is around 22 percent. In 2017, BJP had won eight out of nine seats in the district but the BSP had managed to win Chillupar.
Ajay Kumar Lallu Looks Safe
Tamkuhi Raj Assembly seat in Kushinagar district witnessed 56 percent polling from where PCC Chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was contesting. The polling was more or less on the similar lines of the historical trends of the seat while Bansdih in Balia district saw 54 percent voter turnout. Leader of Opposition (LoP) Ramgovind Chaudhary was contesting from the seat. Bansdih had witnessed 54 percent polling in 2017 and 53 percent in 2012.
In the first five phases of the UP elections, the contest was between the SP and the BJP, barring a few seats. But in the sixth phase, Mayawati has made a comeback and her party is leading in many seats. The triangular fight has increased challenges for Akhilesh Yadav as it was being touted that the sixth and seventh phases would favour him. But the voting pattern seems to have unbalanced his bicycle because SC voters in Purvanchal area are active in the sixth phase.
Non-Jatav Dalits in Purvanchal had supported BJP in the 2017 Assembly elections and 2019 general elections, and this could again benefit the BJP if the trend continues.
(This article first appeared on Hindi Quint. It has been translated by Arvind Singh.)
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