MEERUT : The voter turnout in the first of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, at 64 per cent on Saturday, is a significant figure. The turnout is higher than the overall 59.4 per cent turnout during the 2012 polls that saw Akhilesh Yadav lead the Samajwadi Party into powaer.
The next highest voter turnout since the 1990s was in the 1993 polls, held soon after the Babri Masjid demolition, which dislodged the BJP government in favor of an SP-BSP coalition. It would thus appear that a high voter turnout could be good news for the SP-Congress coalition, though the Mayawati-led BSP could still emerge the dark horse.
Even as the first phase of polling concluded, by and large, peacefully, the campaign carnival had already moved on. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing rallies at Badaun, continued his attack on Akhilesh, claiming it was the Chief Minister’s fault that if the people of UP had yet to see any ‘achche din’.
Pointing to the backwardness of Badaun, Modi said despite being “a VIP district” -- being BSP chief Mayawati’s ‘karyakshetra’ and stronghold of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav -- it figured among the 100 least developed districts of the country. Targeting the SP-Congress alliance, Modi charged that the “two families” had come together to hide their failures.
Modi claimed that while all political parties stood together on the issue of corruption, both Mayawati and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav were both angered by his note ban decision. “Mayawati and Mulayam Singh who were opposed to each other, came together on one issue when I waged a war on black money as they found that the ground was slipping under their feet,” Modi said.
The scions of the “two families”, meanwhile, lost no time in striking back. In Lucknow with Akhilesh to release the alliance’s Common Minimum Programme, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi warned that the PM would get a “jolt” once the UP poll results came out.
Pointing to the issue of unemployment, Gandhi claimed that while Modi had promised to provide two lakh jobs every year, only one lakh youths were given jobs last year. He also took the opportunity to attack the PM’s jibe against former PM Manmohan Singh saying, “Modi likes to read janampatri (horoscope), search Google and peep into the bathrooms of people… but he is a failure as a Prime Minister,” he said.