LUCKNOW: The buzz has changed ever so slightly as the UP electoral bandwagon moved into the eastern region of the State. With 89 seats at stake across 14 districts in the sixth and seventh phases on March 4 and 8 respectively, the BJP’s campaign, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has shifted to a higher gear and refused to back down on demonetisation after a couple of weeks of being on the defensive.
On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party is defending this turf without the active involvement of Mulayam Singh Yadav in his own constituency of Azamgarh where it won nine out the 10 seats in 2012. Indeed, the SP had then swept this region, winning 50 out of the 89 seats. The last stretch is, therefore, likely to be a trial of Akhilesh Yadav’s acceptance.
For Modi, the gentle spin given to the GDP numbers by the Central Statistical Organisation has been timely as he revs up the BJP campaign in a region with a higher proportion of the upper caste vote.
The fact that the pangs of demonetisation have begun to ease and queues at ATMs have ceased is working to the advantage of the BJP while blunting Akhilesh’s criticism of demonetisation.
On the other hand, the challenge for the Samajwadis is stiffer as the party is facing a strong anti-incumbency sentiment in this region.
“The SP government has not done enough in eastern UP despite having won a huge mandate from this region. The party has disappointed its voters across these 14 districts which are grappling with a number of issues,” says a prominent political scientist.