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|September 24, 1999||
BJP firing on all cylinders in UP
The ruling BJP and its allies, apparently unnerved by exit polls predicting an unimpressive show by the party in the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, are firing on all cylinders to pre-empt any setback in their bastion.
Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, after the first phase in which 30 of the 85 Lok Sabha constituencies went to the polls, discussed the strategy for the ensuing phases with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Home Minister L K Advani in Delhi.
Though the meeting took place amid reports that Singh was ''sulking'', he brushed aside such charges and said ''I was not summoned by Vajpayeeji, but had come on my own to discuss certain things with the prime minister so that the BJP can win more than 60 seats in the state. All out efforts are being made to ensure the party's spectacular success in the coming phases too.'' Singh refuted charges that the anti-incumbency factor and ''lacklustre performance'' of his government had reduced the party's chances.
On the other hand, emboldened by such adverse indications about the BJP other parties have directed their activists to ensure maximum turn out of their supporters for voting to exploit the emerging situation.
The BJP had bagged 17 out of the 24 seats which go to the polls on Saturday. The remaining 31 seats, mainly in eastern UP will go to the polls on October 3.
The Samajwadi Party, which had bagged six of these seats and had remained runners up in eight others, is more than hopeful of springing a surprise. With the Congress striking an alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal of undisputed Jat leader Charan Singh's son Ajit Singh in half a dozen seats in western UP's sugar belt together with the party's high hopes in the hill region, the scenario both in Ruhelkhand and Uttrakhand regions is anybody's guess.
Of the 14 seats in the Upper Doab region, polling in seven seats have already been completed and the rest will be on Saturday. Last time, the BJP had won all 14 seats with a positive swing of four per cent votes.
The Congress had to face a massive negative swing of nine per cent and could not win a single seat. In the 1996 polls, the party had polled thirteen per cent votes. The other major party which made its presence felt in the region was the Bahujan Samaj Party which too had to face a negative swing of one per cent. In the previous elections, it had polled 20 per cent votes. One of the major losers in the last polls was the Samajwadi Party which had faced a negative swing of 17 per cent.
In the '96 polls, it had polled 19 per cent votes. The BSP played spoilsport last time by contesting all the seats and making the contest four cornered.
There are ten seats in the state's Ruhelkhand region and the electoral battle here is fierce again. The SP had four of these seats in the 1996 polls while the BJP and the Congress had won only two seats each. The Janata Dal and the BSP had won one seat each.
The social structure of the region shows that it is dominated by Muslims and scheduled castes.
The SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav is in the fray from the region's Sambhal seat which he is contesting again in addition to Lower Doab's Kannauj.
The state's Uttarakhand region consists of four seats -- Almora, Nainital, Tehri Garhwal and Garhwal. This region came in the limelight following the demand for a separate state. This was also the main reason behind the disaster for the Congress in this region in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections when the anti-Congress mood of the voters had helped the BJP sweep all the four seats.
The voter profile of this region shows that it has been dominated by traditional Hindu communities. Rajput and Brahmin votes decide the fate of any candidate here and every political party plays up to them. The scheduled caste Shilpkars are present in a sizeable number. The literacy level is comparatively higher as almost half of the electorate including 63 per cent men and 38 per cent women voters are literate here. Most of the voters are working in industries, the service sector or trade related activities.
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