Mathura: Mathura is all set to vote for its first mayor next week with all major parties, the BJP, the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, fielding candidates for the post.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as well as independent candidates will also contest the elections on 26 November, the first electoral race since the Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam was constituted recently. The Yogi Adityanath government had also formed the Ayodhya Nagar Nigam at the time.
With all main parties in the fray, political observers say the elections will be a litmus test for the state government's popularity.
The elections are being seen as a prestige battle for the BJP. While actor Hema Malini represents Mathura in the Lok Sabha, the state's energy minister Srikant Sharma represents the constituency in the Assembly.
"The chief minister's successful election meeting on 19 November has given a clear edge to the BJP candidate Mukesh Arya Bandhu," Sharma said.
His colleague, Minister for Dairy Development, Minority Welfare and Religious Affairs and Culture Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary, added that the party would win a landslide victory in the local bodies election.
The party has faced problems of dissent. According to BJP leader Pradeep Goshwami, 34 persons who were working against the interest of the party have been debarred for six years.
He added that disgruntled elements have either been won over or expelled.
The Congress, which is fielding Mohan Singh, is poised to win the elections, said senior party leader Pradeep Mathur.
Voters who switched to the BJP in the Vidhan Sabha elections will return to the party fold as the BJP government had not done anything worth mentioning in eight months.
The Congress is a cohesive unit, he stressed, and is canvassing as one for the success of its candidate.
Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is supporting the Congress.
With the party's state unit president Raj Babbar campaigning, its prospects will brighten further, said Ashok Chakleshwar Singh, Congress city president of Mathura.
The other contestants are Goverdhan Singh of BSP, Shyam Murari of Samajvadi Party and Ganesh Mahor of Aam Aadmi Party as well as independents.
However, campaigning for them has been relatively low key, observers said.
According to Anand Kishor Goswami, the priest of the Bankey Behari temple, the mayoral election would be a verdict on demonetisation and GST.
There is also discontent in Vrindavan, the twin town of Mathura, with residents unhappy that the Vrindavan Nagar Palika has been merged with Mathura.
"We now would use NOTA on 26 November when Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam is going to polls," said Bhagwatacharya Vibhu Sharma, flanked by dozens of residents of the town.
The district administration has intensified its efforts to ensure implementation of the model code of conduct.
While regular raids are on to check illegal trade of liquor and money, checking of EVMS is in full swing, said District Magistrate Arvind Malappa Bangari.
He said the sale of liquor prior and during the election has been banned from the evening of 24 to 26 November. Restrictions on the sale of liquor have also been imposed for counting from midnight of 30 November to midnight of 1 December.
Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 18:56 PM