Major political parties in Uttar Pradesh are aggressively campaigning in Braj region which is going to polls in the first phase. Political parties have a lot at stake with 36 seats up for grabs in Braj.
Brajwasis, as the residents of this region are known, will decide the fate of 430 candidates in seven districts of the area. Mainpuri, a district in Agra division, will go to polls in the third phase on February 19.
The Braj region comprises of seven districts -- Agra, Mathura and Firozabad in Agra division and Aligarh, Etah, Hathras and Kasganj in Aligarh division.
The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) are hoping for a sanguine beginning in the multiple phase poll.
Past Record of Braj
Though the Samajwadi Party dominated Braj in 2012 elections by winning 15 out of 36 seats, it was unable to win from Mathura and managed only one seat each in Agra and Hathras. It will have to make a mark in the cities it missed and retain the seats won in Firozabad, Aligarh, Etah and Kasganj.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had announced development projects including Lucknow-Agra expressway, Tajganj project, and Agra inner ring road to woo voters. The Congress hopes that lady luck would smile on it after alliance with the SP.
Meanwhile, BSP supremo Mayawati is leaving no stone unturned to win the support of Dalit and Muslim communities in Braj. The BSP will hope to improve its performance by sweeping seats it lost in 2012.
Regional party RLD had outperformed its national opponents and had marched ahead of both BJP and Congress in 2012.
However, in 2014 Lok Sabha election, the RLD, BSP and Congress were unable to match the Modi wave and did not win a single seat in Braj. If SP’s 2014 performance is an indication, it will have to pull up its socks for 2017 to win more than one seat.
Delay in declaring candidates
With BSP taking a lead in declaring its candidates, it seems the party is best prepared for the elections.
The BJP lost out on precious time by declaring candidates only in January. The SP is on the backfoot as it announced its alliance with the Congress late.
BJP and RLD made the most of confusion in the ruling party by taking into their fold a number of SP rebels.