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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

UP civic polls in Nov: Time to test Adityanath govt’s performance before 2019

Civic elections, which will be held in three phases from November 22, will be a referendum on the six-month performance of the Yogi Adityanath government on GST and demonetisation that has angered and anguished traders.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2017 21:35 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath leads a procession in Gorakhpur on Dussehra.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath leads a procession in Gorakhpur on Dussehra. (Deepak Gupta/ HT File Photo)

The three-phase civic polls in Uttar Pradesh from November 22 will provide a veritable ground to all political parties to test the turbulent waters ahead of the general elections in 2019. And they are not leaving anything to chance.

At stake is the Bharatiya Janata Party’s desire to retain its popular hold on the northern state that had sent 73 MPs to the Lok Sabha and opposition’s desperation to revive from its moribund stage and checkmate the saffron outfit’s easy return to power in the assembly elections with a massive mandate.

Political experts agree that the civic elections will be a referendum on the six-month performance of the Yogi Adityanath government on Goods and Service Tax (GST) and demonetisation that has angered and anguished traders, especially small ones, and the opposition’s resuscitation plans.

BJP leaders accept the brewing resentment among the traders but are confident of assuaging their feelings and winning the support of their traditional vote bank. The challenge lies in retaining 10 of the 12 mayoral seats that it currently holds. The strength of mayors has gone up to 16.

Besides activating party legislators, the chief minister and his two deputies will be leading the party’s campaign for the polls they believe are crucial for 2019.

There is another view too.

“First, we are fully prepared to win all the seats. If at all there is a setback, we will make necessary corrections before 2019 polls as well as the crucial by-polls to two Lok Sabha seats, Gorakhpur and Phulpur, vacated by Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Maurya,” a senior leader said.

After the Congress weakened, the BJP has controlled the local bodies as the 3.30 crore voters come from its stronghold of urban areas. Till the 2014 and 2017 elections, the BJP was considered an urban party with a little base in the rural pockets.

On the other hand, both the regional parties — the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party — are entering the fray after reinventing themselves.

Mayawati has not only introduced the family’s next generation to the people as her heir apparent but also gone back from social engineering to her core vote bank of Dalits, which partly switched loyalties protesting the prominence given to the upper caste by her. However, she has a limitation as her vote bank is restricted to rural pockets and the party is contesting elections for the first time on party symbol.

As for the Samajwadi Party, the family war seems to be over with the installation of Akhilesh Yadav as the national president of the party. However, his vote bank of Yadavs is also negligible in the urban areas. Yet, SP leaders are pinning their hopes on improved performance in cities in the 2017 assembly elections that they badly lost to the BJP. They are also confident of Muslim consolidation in their favour.

Interestingly, the Congress is apparently taking the civic elections seriously as the party leaders have been closely interacting with their block level leaders.

“This election will go to the BJP as opposition lacks candidates, party network and preparedness. But the demoralised cadre organization will get geared up for 2019,” Gorakhpur-based political expert Rajesh Singh said.

As of now, all the three opposition parties have decided to test their strengths independently. The defeat in the civic polls may stir up coalition talks for 2019, primarily to check the BJP and his rise.

Urban vote

As many as 3.30 crore urban voters will exercise their franchise to elect 13,000 representatives, including mayors, corporators, nagarpalika chairpersons and ward members.

This time, the people will elect 16 mayors against the 12 they had elected the last time. Four more cities have been declared municipal corporations since.

While the Samajwadi Party declared Saharanpur and Firozabad as the municipal corporations, the Adityanath government has created two more municipal corporations of Faizabad and Mathura.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 17:28 IST

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