Has Uttar Pradesh voted for hung Assembly? Exit poll today to offer indicators

By the time the long-drawn seven-phase elections came to an end, the narrative had changed.

Published: 09th March 2017 01:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2017 01:47 AM   |  A+A-

BSP supremo Mayawati

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: About 60 per cent of the electorate in 40 Assembly segments spread over seven districts -- roughly comprising 10 per cent of the 403-seat Uttar Pradesh assembly -- voted in the last phase of polling on Wednesday, bringing the curtain down on a marathon and vitriol-filled State elections.

What stands out, interestingly, is that polling peaked to around 63.84 per cent and 66.17 per cent (the final figures of Election Commission) in the first two phases of the elections in western UP, and waned in the in-between phases, and peaked again in the final phase to touch 60 per cent (provisional EC figures) in eastern UP.

In the first two phases, the high polling was attributed to the disaffected Jat community's response to demonetisation, unkept promises, unsatisfactory minimum support price to sugarcane crop and sundry other issues. The Jats, who had overwhelming voted for the BJP in 2014, were seen to be returning to Ajit Singh's RLD.

By the time the long-drawn seven-phase elections came to an end, the narrative had changed. The BJP seems to have bounced back in the last two phases. The high turnout on Wednesday, and prior to that on March 4, by all indications seems to have gone in favour of the BJP.

However, as far as the buzz goes, the UP could be headed for a hung assembly, with the BJP perhaps emerging as the single largest party and BSP a close second or even overtaking the saffron party. The exit polls, expected to roll out on Thursday evening, may throw more light on this preliminary assessment.

Analysts believe a hung house could be a high-likelihood result of this turnaround. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah stepping up the campaign seems to have changed the narrative around, helping the BJP push its tally up and create a mini-surge, even if not exactly a sweep like 2014.

The minority vote, seen to be one of the crucial determinants, started shifting to the BSP in the last three phases, which had a concentration of Muslim-dominated seats.

Both the BJP and the BSP, which are seen to be running for the top tally, started picking up only after the third phase. The other reason for the hung house possibility is the fact that it went from a triangular to a multi-cornered contest. While the ruling Samajwadi Party tied up with the Congress, the BJP is in alliance with Apna Dal and Bharatiya Samaj Party, and only BSP contested alone.

In the final analysis, the Samajwadi Party, which banked entirely on the performance record of the Akhilesh Yadav Government, may have been pulled back by its alliance with the Congress and the family feud. Even a section of elderly Yadav voters may not have taken kindly to Akhilesh's fracas with father Mulayam Singh, who was mostly missing from the campaign.

While the bitter, high-decibel campaign for five assembly seats in Varanasi overshadowed all other constituencies, the Naxal-affected districts Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli too went to vote on Wednesday. The anti-terror operation in Lucknow too is said to have polarised the voters, both in the Muslim-dominated seats and the others.

When the counting happens on March 11, the UP voters thrown up an expected result with a clear mandate for a single party or combine.

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