Uttar Pradesh first phase polling as it happened: Polling closes in western UP, around 63% voter turnout recorded

There appears no clear front-runner among the three major contestants - BJP, SP-Congress and BSP - in the 73 seats going to polls in the first phase of elections in UP

FP Politics February 11, 2017 18:21:43 IST
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13:10 (ist)

Modi's blatant Hindutva pitch after the third phase

In the past couple of weeks, the prime minister's attitude and his speech strategy at rallies has changed unmistakably. Starting his speeches with the archetypal mitron, which Modi says with a smile, the prime minister's rally speeches suddenly found more of communal undertones and less of the various benefits of demonetisation.

When Modi kick started his campaign in the state on 2 January with his Parivartan rally in Lucknow, the BJP was focussing on appeasing farmers, planning to announce some pro-poor schemes and focus on the many benefits of the 8 November, 2016 decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. The party planned to dedicate the campaigning on making sure that the demonetisation drive was used to its fullest. The second poll issue that Modi wanted to hammer home was development. Modi stayed clear of any communal references in his speech. Until that infamous 'kabristan' speech.

The prime minister was criticised for playing the Hindutva card. Interestingly, the time when Modi made the graveyard comment, three phases of polling were already done. Ground reports did not give any political party a clear lead and analysts said that the shift from development plank to communal plank was party's strategy to engineer counter-polarisation sentiments by whipping up apprehensions about the Samajwadi Party's pro-minority image.

10:43 (ist)

Akhilesh addressed the most number of rallies

With 211 rallies in just 36 days, Akhilesh became the leader who addressd the most number of rallies in Uttar Pradesh. A highly-charged final phase of campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh polls culminated on Monday with shows of strength by the BJP, the Samajwadi Party-Congress combine and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi constituency, where he camped for three days.

Around 40 seats spread over seven eastern districts, including five in Varanasi, go to the polls on Wednesday, bringing the curtains down on the two month-long exercise staggered over seven phases. Predictions aside and in the run-up to 11 March, analysis of the high-octane campaigning in Uttar Pradesh throws up some interesting trends. Number game aside, the tone and texture of the speeches delivered by the major players in Uttar Pradesh gives us an insight of what the political parties might be expecting as the verdict day closes in.

Read the full story here

18:05 (ist)

BJP's candidate dilemma may hurt party in PM Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi

Varanasi is not turning out to be the cakewalk the BJP might have hoped for. Factors like consolidation of opposition votes and well-entrenched rival candidates against BJP's perceived fumbling in picking its nominees have come together to make contests close in this high-profile seat.

"I am a little critical. There is an excess effort from the BJP and people can feel it. Everybody has a role and stature and I think it (Modi's numerous events) diminishes the prime minister's chair," said Ashok Kumar Upadhyay, a professor in Political Science Department of Banaras Hindu University. He, however, told PTI that the overdrive may end up helping the saffron party by winning over floating voters who are guided by the "wave".

17:49 (ist)

Muslim weavers in Varanasi back SP-Congress, feel alienated by BJP

Many of the Muslim weavers are not very happy with the BJP's policies, with their Banarasi sarees having lost sheen post note ban. Besides there are old fault lines that deeply divide the community and the saffron party.

Asked if they would vote for Modi, whose road show on Saturday passed through some Muslim localities and drew good response, some youths shot back, "How many Muslims have been fielded by the BJP in UP? Zero. We are 20 per cent in the state but not seen good enough even for one of the 403 seats. Why should we vote for him?"

18:58 (ist)

After Kejriwal And Parrikar, Akhilesh Yadav Asks UP Voters to Accept Money

Akhilesh Yadav is the latest addition to the list of leaders who have asked the electorate to take money from other outfits but cast vote for their respective parties.

10:13 (ist)

Muslims in Azamgarh want SP but doubtful about Congress

For the Muslim electorate in Azamgarh, the alliance between Samajwadi Party and Congress presents an interesting situation. This is an area where Batla House encounter in September 2008 resonates the most. Though the encounter took place in Delhi, the suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists, who died during that encounter with Delhi Police, belonged to this region. The Congress-led UPA government was in power then and directly controlled Delhi Police. Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma died in course of that encounter.

That notwithstanding senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid was on record saying that Congress president Sonia Gandhi cried on seeing pictures of slain boys. Digvijay Singh went to town against position of claiming that the encounter was fake and the boys (suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists) killed were innocent. The matter went to court where all petitions claiming encounter fake was rejected.

In the run up to 2012 Assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi was booed in Azamgarh's Shibli College. He had to make a hurried exit from the campus. Digvijay Singh was then instrumental in taking Rahul to Shibli College in Azamgarh to re-establish what they call is Congress's secularist credentials.

Interestingly in this election, neither Salman Khurshid nor Digvijay Singh have been heard or seen and Rahul has kept his distance from Azamgarh. The Congress didn't get a single seat in 10 seats of Azamgarh district. The feeling among Muslims is that they would not be voting for Congress but they would be voting for Samajwadi Party and some would vote for the BSP. But at the same time they consider the alliance to be good. The argument is that if the BJP has to be stopped in 2019, the alliances of all kinds would go a long way.

14:15 (ist)

'During election, condition of electricity supply is better'

In Robertsganj, the district headquarters of Sonebhadra district of eastern UP, residents should be getting 20 hours of electricity. Instead, they get 14-15 hours, interspersed with power cuts. “They say they are providing it (electricity), but most of the times it is when we don’t need it,” said Ajit Kumar Shrivastava, Robertsganj resident and a small kirana (grocery) store owner.

“Right now, because it is election time, the supply has been good for the past one month,” said Shrivastava. “Before that, we hardly had power for 14 hours… sometimes as little as eight hours.” About 240 million Indians had no access to electricity in 2015. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the Wembley stadium in London on November 13, 2015, he said: “As many as 18,000 villages need electricity. There are not even electricity poles. In the next 1,000 days we will ensure they get it.” Of 18,452 unelectrified villages in India, 5,438, or almost 30 percent, are yet to be electrified.

14:07 (ist)

Akhilesh Yadav's claims about power supply, electrification exaggerated

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, while addressing a rally at Muzaffarnagar on 2 February, 2017, and in this interview to The Hindu on 22 February, 2017, has claimed that his government is now providing 24-hours-a-day electricity supply to cities and 16-18 hours a day to villages. At another rally on 9 February, 2017, in Kosi, Yadav claimed the government was providing 22-24 hours of electricity a day in cities while villages were being provided with 14-16 hours' supply a day.

Not only do the claims vary from rally to rally, they also do not match official figures given to FactChecker by Purvanchal Vidyut Vitaran Nigam Limited (PVVNL), the state-owned distribution company that supplies power across eastern Uttar Pradesh. While cities were provided with round-the-clock power, district headquarters and larger towns received 22 hours of electricity and villages received 18 hours, said Chandrajeet Singh, chief engineer at PVVNL.

Only 30 km south-east from Muzaffarnagar, where Yadav made the claim of 16-18 hours of power to villages, is Sambalhera, where local resident Mohammed Taleem said they received electricity only for 10-12 hours a day. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

13:01 (ist)

BJP MLA, the solitary reaper from Bundelkhand region

Jhansi (Sadar) — This assembly seat has the only BJP MLA out of 19 seats in Bundelkhand. Ravi Sharma was a face saver for BJP in 2012 election, when he won for the first time from Jhansi. Though, in 2012 Assembly election, besides Sharma, present Union Minister and Jhansi MP Uma Bharti was also elected from Charkhari seat in Mahoba, she vacated it after becoming MP in 2014. In the by-election, BSP candidate won Charkhari seat. So Ravi Sharma is a solitary reaper for BJP from Bundelkhand region. The party has pinned a lot of hope on Sharma, as he is expected to make successful for the second time. 

Since early morning, voter turnout has been heavy at the polling booths in BJP-dominated areas like Manik Chowk, Sidro Bazar etc. However, it is also interesting that there is a good turnout of Muslim voters in Jhansi (Sadar). Large number of Muslim voters have made their presence at Deendayal Nagar, Nandanpura and Kalanja Mohalla. According to many Muslim voters and political observers in Jhansi, this time a large number of Muslim votes in Jhansi will go to BSP and not SP. Muslims are the traditional vote bank for Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.

Similarly there will be a shift in Yadav votes — from Samajwadi Party to BJP in Jhansi this time. "The reason is that the there is no SP candidate in Jhansi, instead Rahul Rai, a new face in the Congress candidate representing the Alliance. Muslims and Yadavs  consider him a weak candidate. So a large number of Muslims will vote for BSP. Similarly many Yadavs will vote for BJP this time," remarked Dr Sanjay Sharma a political observer  in Jhansi.

As per the general trend, Muslims won't vote for BJP. For them vote should be given to any party that can defeat the BJP candidate. And in Jhansi (Sadar), the alliance candidate has been considered as a weak candidate. So they are likely to opt for BSP here. "This simultaneously makes Ravi Sharma's position stronger because besides traditional BJP votes, he will get a good number of Yadav votes," added Dr Sharma. (IN THE PHOTO: Jhansi MLA Ravi Sharma's wife and daughter along with other family members coming out of polling booth at SPI Inter-college Civil Lines after casting their votes.)

11:12 (ist)

Shehar Uttari - Allahabad's most important constituency sees a three-cornered fight

Shehar Uttari (Allahabad North), which is Allahabad city's main and important assembly constituency, has the largest number of candidates this time. It is a three-way contest divided among three patties — BJP, Congress and BSP. Among these three the main contest is between Anugrah Narain Singh of Congress and Harshvardhan Bajpai of BJP. Bajpai has previously contested on BSP's ticket. The point to be noted is that both these candidates count on the votes of Dalits and upper caste. Both the candidates have worked actively among Dalits. Bajpai is the grandson of late Dr. Rajendra Kumari Bajpai (an Indian National Congress politician, a former Union Minister of India and former Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry). 

Anugrah Narain won his first election the ticket of DMKP ( Dalit Mazdur Kisan Party of Hemawati Nandan Bahuguna). He twice lost to Narendra Kumar Singh Gaur of BJP. Thereafter, he has defeated Narendra Singh Gaur and Harshvardhan Bajpai(when he was in BSP). He is a sitting MLA of Congress. 2017 assembly elections will be his successive third term if he wins. Anugrah Narain has own vote due to his popularity among all castes and communities. He is believed to be holding his own irrespective of the party. 

There is a sizeable Muslim population which seems to be inclined towards Anugrah Narain Singh and a small section of it might go to Amit Srivastava of BSP. Notable fact is that Allahabad North consists of huge number of Kayastha population. 

Another interesting candidate of this constituency is Badal Chaterjee, an independent candidate. He is a retired IAS officer who held important posts in District Administration of Allahabad and was also Commissioner of Allahabad Division. He was very popular as an officer and the people of Allahabad staged protest against his transfer. Though among the established political giants he is struggling to garner support.

10:55 (ist)

Fact check on Modi’s UP election campaign: Truths, half-truths and tall claims

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally on 16 February, 2017 in Barabanki, 30km from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh that has seen three phases of voting in a seven-phase poll for the next legislative assembly. IndiaSpend checked five claims made by Modi during the speech


"Lekin agar sarkar ki school main…akhilesh ji ka kaam bolta hai…ki 50% teacher ki bharti hi nahi hui hai, to garib ka baccha padhaai kahaan karega?" (If, as work done by Akhilesh Yadav government shows, there is a 50% vacancy in teacher posts in UP, where will the children of the poor get education?)

Fact: Modi is partially right. As many as 23% teacher posts in elementary grades (up to Class 8) and 50% posts in secondary schools ( Class 9 and Class 10) are vacant in Uttar Pradesh, IndiaSpend reported in December 2016.


"Hindustan mein sabse jyada..daliton par atyachaar agar kahin hote hai, to us pradesh ka naam hai Uttar Pradesh." (If there is a region in India where crimes against lower castes are the highest, it is Uttar Pradesh)

Fact: Modi’s claim is wrong.

Though crimes against Scheduled Castes (SCs) were the highest in UP at 8,358 cases, with 8,460 people affected in 2015, UP’s crime rate, or crime per 100,000 SC population, was 20, less than Gujarat (26), Madhya Pradesh (37) and Goa (51), according to data from the National Crimes Records Bureau.

Read the full article here

09:47 (ist)

As Priyanka Gandhi disappears from Amethi, Raebareli, Lalu Prasad Yadav steers Congress ship

It is highly mystifying to people in Raebareli. They had seen it in TV news, read it in newspapers that Priyanka Gandhi was the one who finally saw to it that Congress’ alliance deal with Samajwadi Party was sealed. They had also come to know through media reports and from whatever political gossip they had heard that she was now poised to take a bigger role, campaign all over Uttar Pradesh than just nurturing twin family constituencies, Raebareli and Amethi.

But people here were in for a surprise of a different kind. They are in fact a bit intrigued by her absence. Last time they had enough of Priyanka Gandhi in 2012 assembly elections, who was here for about a fortnight, had gone to almost every big nukkad in six assembly segments of her mother’s parliamentary constituency, spoke there, waved hands, spent moments with womenfolk, party workers and other sundry voters in all strata of society.

While local Congress leaders claim that Priyanka was occupied with some family matters but that’s no explanation for ordinary locals. In the last Assembly election, she had held about three dozen rallies in six assembly segments Raebareli and slightly less number in four assembly segments of Amethi parliamentary constituency, held by her brother Rahul. In the parliamentary election, she was managing Raebareli and Amethi.


09:38 (ist)

Keshav Maurya defends PM's graveyard comment, says Ram Temple is matter of faith for BJP

Speaking to CNN-News18, BJP state president Keshav Maurya said, "Even SP and BSP are accepting that they are fighting against BJP. BJP is here to form the government." When asked about the graveyard comment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Keshav said, "There is nothing wrong in whatever  the prime minister has said. He just showed us the reality that light comes during Ramzan and Eid and not during Diwali."

When asked whether Ram Temple is one of the poll issues, Keshav said, "Ram temple is a matter of faith for us. We have mentioned it in our manifesto as well. As far as Uttar Pradesh ke Ladke are concerned, the youth of UP will give them a reply."

09:30 (ist)

Despite SP-Congress alliance, UP ko kuch aur pasand hai

Winds of change could be blowing in Uttar Pradesh. Ahead of the third phase of polling in this most populous and politically crucial Hindi heartland state, there are signs on the ground that Samajwadi Party-Congress coalition, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav’s pre-poll catchphrase “UP ko ye saath pasand hai” is not striking the desired cord among the numbers of voters required to catapult them to power.

It’s true that there are no obvious signs of anti-incumbency against Akhilesh Yadav but the endorsement sentiments to bring the incumbent back to power is clearly missing.

An excessive reliance of the SP-Congress coalition to woo Muslims has given rise to latent Hindutva sentiments across the state. The strategists perhaps erred in calculating the Muslims vote but they are not the only ones who vote. Mayawati too has erred on the same count. Scratch a bit and Hindutva sentiments of non-Yadav and non-Jatav community would come out to the fore. The situation may not be that of 2014 but this factor is certainly there on the ground and that could significantly tilt the balance for BJP.

The polling percentage so far, with exception of Noida, has been very good. That is a clear indicator that voters in large numbers from all communities are coming out to vote. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

13:59 (ist)

Sweeping phase two election crucial for SP to justify its alliance with Congerss

This phase of election is supremely important for the SP-Congress combine as majority of the 67 seats where the polling process is underway has overwhelming Muslim population.

The underlying purpose behind the alliance between Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party and Sonia-Rahul Gandhi led Congress party was consolidation of Muslim votes for the combine. Akhilesh Yadav on several occasion has said there was a confusion among some people about Samajwadi's prospects to return to power but after a tie-up with Congress that confusion is gone. If SP-Congress has to come to power, it needs to sweep this phase.

In 2012 elections SP had won 35 of 67 seats, Congress 3, BSP 18 and BJP had won 10, one seat had gone to Independent.

The BJP is banking on some split in Muslim votes between SP-BSP and AIMIM. The BJP is also looking for a situation where aggressive polling by Muslim community members could consolidate Hindutava votes in its favor. Latent Hindutava sentiment is there in sections of Hindu voters but the key question is how much of that is translating into votes.

The BSP has fielded some strong candidates on the ground. The party has also got a number of influential Muslim clerics and community groups to issue appeal in its favor. Despite Supreme Court order, Mayawati has been openly talking of importance of Muslim votes. Will that yield dividend to her. As it is she has solid backing of Dalits, particularly Jatavas.

Polling by noon has shown that polling percentage could go up in this phase, at least as compared to phase one. There lies the catch for all three mainstream contenders SP-Congress, BJP and BSP.

13:46 (ist)

Modi uses Isro success to punch in strong dose of nationalism in Kannauj rally

Narendra Modi began his rally in Kannauj by congratulating
Isro scientists for launching 104 satellites in one go earlier in the day. Constantly invoking their success during his speech, the Prime Minister asked the sizeable crowd to raise their voice to laud the scientists' effort in which 101 were foreign satellites were launched and only 3 were Indian. 

Modi was effectively urging the voters to rise above caste, community and identity fault lines with a strong dose of nationalism arising out of the achievements of scientists. 

11:24 (ist)

This election falls under 'rarest of rare' category where conventional wisdom is unlikely to win

Conventional wisdom often guides elections. But rarely does an election turn conventional wisdom on its head. A cursory glance at the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election 2017 would leave no one in doubt that this election would fall into the category of 'rarest of rare' elections.

Not let us examine the reasons why this election is one of the rarest political event in the life of the country's most populous state. Conventional wisdom has it that the party which gets overwhelming mandate only two-and-a-half years back in 2014 Lok Sabha election should have edge over others. By this logic, the BJP should have been choice for the electorate in the state assembly election.

But that is not the case. The electoral chemistry of the national election is vastly different from the state assembly polls. In 2014 elections, Narendra Modi rode on a wave of high expectation and an outright rejection of a government perceived to be led by a weakest-ever prime minister. The groundswell of support transcended the caste-barriers in a decisive manner for Modi. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

10:58 (ist)

Minority muscle in Uttar Pradesh

This round of election spread across electorally Muslim-dominated areas of Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha where community presence vary between 30 percent to 65 percent will decide whether Hyderabad based Assaduddin Owasi's AIMIM can spread its political influence outside of Telangana and make a mark in Hindi heartland.

For the first time Owasi is trying his luck here and has fielded 40 candidates from AIMIM symbol. Owaisi and erstwhile Congress ally in Andhra Pradesh and also at the centre during UPA regime had surprised all by opening account in Maharastra assembly election and making substantive gains in civic bodies polls. He, however, had failed in Bihar assembly elections because his party was seen as a vote spoiler. Uttar Pradesh is a big test for him. In his public rallies in Uttar Pradesh, he has pulled fierce punches on Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati. BJP is his favourite punching bag.

His success, whatever it be, votes or seats, means loss to SP. So far Muslim politics and Muslim voting preference in the state has so far been split between SP and BSP. The BSP has fielded 100 Muslim candidates with SP closely following that number but the fact remains that no party with Muslim leadership at the top, formed with purpose to cater Muslim interests has so far electorally succeeded. Can Owaisi make that exception? His speeches have been fiery, making the crowd lustily cheer for him but can he turn that personal appeal in votes?

09:57 (ist)

Women winning fewer polls, losing deposits in larger numbers

Poor, populous Uttar Pradesh was the first Indian state to have a female chief minister – Sucheta Kriplani from 1963 to 1967–but this pioneering effort has not improved prospects for women in elections. As voter turnout has risen, more competitors have stood against women candidates, fewer women have won and a growing number have lost their deposits, according to an IndiaSpend and Swaniti Initiative analysis of electoral data of the last three state elections in UP since 2002.

The only exception was for the seats reserved for scheduled caste (SC) candidates. The proportion of women winning SC seats was more than double that of those winning general seats. All this happened over a period when women in India’s most populous state became healthier and better educated, reinforcing the point that there is no correlation between these indicators and better political representation of women.

States with the worst sex ratios have more women members of legislative assemblies (MLAs), as IndiaSpend reported in September 2015. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

09:25 (ist)

UP Second phase battle is between two royalties

The battle of second phase is between the erstwhile Nawab of Rampur Nawab Kazim Ali Khan and modern day political Nawab of Rampur Azam Khan's son Abdullah Azam Khan.

A well educated and well groomed Nawab Kazim Ali Khan is four time MLA from this constituency. A traditional Congressman Nawab (belonging to a family which had been with Congress since Independence until about a year ago) is now BSP candidate. He now hopes that dailts and other sections on margins of social structure would add on to his personal social clout of a royalty. Pitted against him is a young Samajwadi candidate Abdullah Azam Khan. Though the young Khan is a political green horn but has support and legacy of his mighty father.

What makes this Khan versus Khan battle even more interesting is the fact that this constituency has 60 percent Muslim population and the way members of the community vote here today could send signals elsewhere. Nawab Khan's family and SP's Azam Khan (who practically lords over this region) political rivalry dates is four decade old. But in this assembly election it has become sharper than ever.

This is one of the few constituencies where the election is principally between SP and BSP. But then candidature and claim of BJP's Lakshmi Saini can't be completely ruled out. In 2014 parliamentary poll pattern gives hope to BJP's supporters - Muslim votes got divided between Azam's candidate from SP Naseer Ahmad Khan and Nawab Kazim Ali Khan to pave victory way BJP's Nepal Singh.

14:26 (ist)

New favourite of Jats — RLD — could ruin BJP's prospects

The 73 constituencies spread across 15 districts going to the polls in first phase, has an interesting mix of rural areas in western UP. While areas going to the polls includes, two most important cities Noida and Agra, but the centre of attention in this phase is how Jat heartland Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Hapur and Bulandshahar would vote.

Common wisdom would suggest that people or a group or a community would vote to see what suits their interest, who protects their interest and who has the potential to deliver goods for the state and work for popular welfare. Jats are a hugely emotional community and more often than not emotions take priority over prudence. Fellow Jats from adjacent Haryana have been camping in this region to ensure that their brethrens in Western UP got disconnected from the BJP.

It is clear that a majority of Jats have shifted their preference from BJP to their very own Ajit Singh's RLD but then many of them are with the BJP. Ajit Singh's RLD is no winner (it can win few seats) but can play spoiler to the BJP's prospects. It thus becomes important for the BJP what percentage of Jats vote for RLD and what percentage of Jats vote for BJP. BSP and SP-Congress combine is talked here in context of a triangular or a quadrangular fight.

The SP-Congress combine is heavily banking in Muslim voters in the region seeing their combination as sole protector of their interests. This was the region which was affected in 2013 riots.

14:24 (ist)

Complex caste dynamics in state most certainly predict a hung Assembly

The first phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election in the western region of the state, for 73 seats, is finally underway. The early trend of voting pattern shows that this election is shaping up to be one of the most unique, hyper-competitive, and potentially divisive elections in generations.

Interestingly, the pragmatism of electoral compulsions is seen in full swing when we find that all the parties moderated their competitive needs and entered into the political alignment beyond ideological lines and conventional hostilities. The saddest part is that the dramatic defragmentation of political parties has succeeded in misplacing the priorities of Uttar Pradesh’s electorates.

First, the present election has become mechanical and appears more a contest between highly professional poll managers hired by all the political parties than the parties themselves. Second, the well-defined notion of ‘vote-bank’ politics is in terminal decline. The social bases of all the political parties have been seriously challenged. Read the full article here

13:34 (ist)

Slow death of Kanpur’s leather economy and Uttar Pradesh's job crisis

In the 1990s, Kanpur’s leather industry employed a million workers (there are no official data), according to IndiaSpend’s inquiries with the government and leather-industry representatives. With 176 of 400 leather tanning units shutting over 10 years, according to a joint secretary–who requested anonymity since he is not authorised to talk to the media–in UP’s industries department, that number has halved.

But earnings from the auto were irregular, from Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month. So, Hussain is about to begin a job designing and fixing ‘uppers’ (the upper part of a shoe that contains the tongue) at a shoe factory in NOIDA, located in UP but an extension of the metropolitan region of Delhi, India’s richest province, by per capita income.

Read the full article here

09:33 (ist)

As electoral battlelines are drawn, an analysis to know your neta

The Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly closes its term by May 2017. Elections to the Assembly are scheduled for February and counting will take place in April 2017. As candidates get ready to file their nominations with the Election Commission, we present our analysis of the current composition of the Assembly (2012-2017) and the participation of the members (MLAs).

Read the full article here

14:32 (ist)

BJP to focus on development in 'calm Muzaffarnagar': Sanjeev Balyan

In 2016, nearly two and a half years after the Muzaffarnagar riots, when bypoll was held in  this constituency following the death of the then sitting SP MLA Chitranjan Swaroop, the BJP won the seat battling a sympathy wave in favour of the leader's son. Many analysts had then said the saffron party was able to exploit the communal faultlines through its campaign which was led by riot-accused BJP leaders.

The BJP had deployed local MP and minister of state for agriculture in Modi government, Sanjeev Balyan, MP Hukum Singh and MLA Suresh Rana for campaigning in February-2016 bypoll, the first after the communal riots. They were all named as accused in cases related to the 2013 riots which left at least 60 dead and thousands displaced.

However, for the upcoming elections, the party seems to have adopted the much-publicised narrative of development. Western UP, where tension had prevailed during the 2014 Lok Sabha election too in the wake of riots, is calm and elections would be held peacefully with development being the major issue, Balyan told PTI.

He talked of how despite facing difficulties people have supported demonetisation in national interest. The BJP leader targeted the Akhilesh Yadav Government over alleged corruption and mining mafia. He also said it was his party's strategy not to declare its chief ministerial face. "In the UPA government, it was said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is honest but the government is corrupt. Now Akhilesh Yadavji is also saying 'I am honest and removed one minister over allegations of corruption' but he reinstated him again after 15 days," Balyan said.


Mar 08, 2017 - 17:14 (IST)

Watch: Firstpost's roundup on the seventh and final phase of UP Election with SanjaySingh and Badrinarayan

Mar 08, 2017 - 17:35 (IST)

Voting for the seventh and final phase in Uttar Pradesh ends

Mar 08, 2017 - 16:49 (IST)

56 percent voting till 4 pm in UP phase 7 polls

Around 56 per cent of the 1.41 crore voters exercised their franchise till 4 PM today in the seventh and last phase of Uttar Pradesh elections covering 40 Assembly seats spread over seven districts. Assembly constituencies in Varanasi saw 45 percent polling while the Naxal-hit Mirzapur had 47.50 percent polling till 4 pm, it said. PTI

Mar 08, 2017 - 14:29 (IST)

Over 41 percent voting till 2 pm in UP phase seven polls

Over 41 per cent votes were polled till 2 pm on Wednesday in the seventh and last phase of Uttar Pradesh elections covering 40 Assembly seats spread over seven districts.

Mar 08, 2017 - 13:16 (IST)

Meanwhile... PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah offered prayers at Somnath temple

As the massive polling exercise across five states draws towards its end, PM Modi and Amit Shah were seen offering prayers at the Somnath temple in Gujarat. 

After concluding the high-decibel canvassing in all states, especially UP, looks like the BJP top-brass is now pleasing gods for their efforts to pay off.

Mar 08, 2017 - 13:10 (IST)

Modi's blatant Hindutva pitch after the third phase

In the past couple of weeks, the prime minister's attitude and his speech strategy at rallies has changed unmistakably. Starting his speeches with the archetypal mitron, which Modi says with a smile, the prime minister's rally speeches suddenly found more of communal undertones and less of the various benefits of demonetisation.

When Modi kick started his campaign in the state on 2 January with his Parivartan rally in Lucknow, the BJP was focussing on appeasing farmers, planning to announce some pro-poor schemes and focus on the many benefits of the 8 November, 2016 decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. The party planned to dedicate the campaigning on making sure that the demonetisation drive was used to its fullest. The second poll issue that Modi wanted to hammer home was development. Modi stayed clear of any communal references in his speech. Until that infamous 'kabristan' speech.

The prime minister was criticised for playing the Hindutva card. Interestingly, the time when Modi made the graveyard comment, three phases of polling were already done. Ground reports did not give any political party a clear lead and analysts said that the shift from development plank to communal plank was party's strategy to engineer counter-polarisation sentiments by whipping up apprehensions about the Samajwadi Party's pro-minority image.

Mar 08, 2017 - 13:05 (IST)

Women vote in large numbers

Aware that it was International Women's Day on the day of polling, most women told the waiting media outside the polling booths that they were voting to ensure safety and security for women and girls. Professors and members from the teaching fraternity turned up in large numbers to cast their votes in the early hours in the Benaras Hindu University (BHU). 

Ajay Rai, the Congress candidate from Pindra, also cast his vote along with his wife. He first performed puja at a temple before heading for the polling station. Rai had unsuccessfully challenged Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Mar 08, 2017 - 13:05 (IST)

Farmers in Mirzapur's Chunar region boycott elections over lack of irrigation facilities

Farmers boycotted voting in Mirzapur's Chunar assembly segment alleging lack of irrigation facilities & development.

Mar 08, 2017 - 12:57 (IST)

From 'bahu ji' to SP star campaigner: The metamorphosis of Dimple Yadav

The reticent and soft-spoken bahu (daughter-in-law) of the first family of the ruling Samajwadi Party in UP, Dimple Yadav, has finally found her groove, emerging as a major crowd puller in election rallies all over the state.

From the fumbling leader who repeatedly corrected herself while going through her written speeches, the new Dimple - the star campaigner - has learnt how to
keep the audience especially the youth involved and impress them.


Mar 08, 2017 - 12:43 (IST)

Over 26 percent voting till 12 noon in last phase of UP polls

Over 26 per cent votes were polled till noon for the seventh and last phase of Uttar Pradesh elections. Polling started amidst tight security arrangements this
morning with all eyes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi.

Varanasi saw 23.76 percent polling, while the Naxal infested Mirzapur had 26.63 per cent polling till 11 am.


There appears no clear front-runner among the three major contestants - BJP, SP-Congress and BSP - in the 73 seats going to polls in the first phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh with factors including demonetisaiton, problems of farmers and caste and community considerations likely to influence the outcome.

While the BJP appears to be in no position to repeat its performance of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Bahujan Samaj Party has steadily built up momentum of its campaign and the Samajwadi Party and Congress are expecting to benefit from their alliance. The Rashtriya Lok Dal is also a force to reckon with on several seats, due to its appeal among Jat voters.

For the BJP, which is banking heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal and its "social engineering", the first phase is crucial to build momentum for the remaining six phases of assembly election for 403 seats in the Uttar Pradesh assembly.

But the party has been battling challenges, including perceived unhappiness among the Jat community, which has a sizeable presence on most seats going to polls in the first phase.

Uttar Pradesh first phase polling as it happened Polling closes in western UP around 63 voter turnout recorded

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

There has also been unhappiness among small traders and labourers who faced difficulties due to the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Choudhary Naresh Tikait said the central government has "done nothing" for the farmers and rural areas in last two-and-a-half years.

"Farmers are moving towards cities. I do not see any benefit due to demonetisation. It has rather caused problems, specially to farmers," he said.

Naresh Tikait, son of well-known farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, said there was "a wave for Modi in 2014" but the situation was different now.

"Political parties have sought to divide farmers on caste lines for their own benefit," he added.

Pushpinder Choudhury, who is affiliated to Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti, said the Jats would consolidate behind RLD. "They are angry BJP over the issue of reservation and demonetisation," he said.

On its part, the BJP has sought to reach out to the Jat community and farmers.

The party's manifesto has several promises for them including loan waiver for small and marginal farmers.

Modi, in his rally at Bijnor on Friday, said the Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav had not given the sugarcane farmers their due and BJP will ensure them justice.

He also promised to set up Chaudhary Charan Singh Kisan Kalyan Kosh in every district of the state.

In 2012, the BJP had won only 11 of the 73 seats that will vote on Saturday. The Bahujan Samaj Party and SP had won 24 seats each, Rashtriya Lok Dal had won nine and Congress five.

BSP chief Mayawati has been assiduously building up her campaign and seeking to woo the Muslim community to add to her firm support base among the Dalits. To win the trust of the community, BSP has fielded a large number of Muslim candidates.

Apart from the 24 seats it won in 2012, the BSP had finished second on over 30 seats.

With the Samajwadi Party joining hands with the Congress, the two parties are looking to improve their performance.

Samajwadi Party leader and UP minister Rajendra Choudhary said their main contest is with the BJP. "On some seats, the BSP and RLD have their presence but we are ahead in the contest. We will perform better than in 2012," Choudhary told IANS.

Muslims, Jats and Dalits have large presence in the seats going to the polls in the first phase in western UP. The members of the minority community are likely to vote for a candidate who is in a position to defeat the BJP.

Rajendra Choudhary said the community will overwhelmingly vote for SP-Congress. "I do not think their vote is getting divided," Choudhary said.

The RLD, which could have been part of SP-Congress alliance, is now contesting on its own. The party is seeking to revive its support base among the Jat and farming communities. The party has said it will not join hands with BJP after the assembly polls.

Pradeep Mathur, Congress MLA from Mathura, said the fight in western UP is between SP-Congress alliance and the BJP.

"BSP has very nominal presence. Majority of Muslim voters are with us and we are going to form the next government by winning around 40 seats (in this phase," Mathur told IANS.

Minister of Stare for Agriculture and BJP leader Sanjeev Balyan admitted that the situation was not good for the party as it was in 2014, when the BJP had led in over 65 of 73 assembly segments.

"But the most important thing is that BJP is in fight on each seat of Western Uttar Pradesh. As far as Jats are concerned, they are with BJP. Khaps never interfere in politics. We have fielded 18 Jat candidates. RLD will only cut votes. The fight here is between the BJP and the SP-Congress alliance," he said.

Hukum Singh, BJP MP from Kairana, also claimed that BSP was not in the picture anywhere.

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