UP: Urban Local Body Elections to Be Held on May 4, 11; Counting on May 13
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Lucknow: The State Election Commission (SEC) of Uttar Pradesh on Monday announced that it would hold urban local body (ULB) polls in two phases on May 4 and 11. The counting of votes will be done on May 13.
The SEC also said that with the announcement of the election programme, the model code of conduct has come into force with immediate effect in the municipal and town council areas going to polls.
When announcing the polls, State election commissioner Manoj Kumar stated that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is now in force.
State election commissioner Manoj Kumar stated that 17 municipal corporations, 199 municipal councils, and 439 nagar panchayats would be electing their new representatives. There has been an increase of 107 urban bodies from the last election, bringing the total to 760 this time.
Lucknow, along with eight other divisions -- Saharanpur, Moradabad, Agra, Jhansi, Prayagraj, Devipatan, Gorakhpur and Varanasi would be voting in the first phase on May 4,
Nine other divisions — Meerut, Bareilly, Aligarh, Kanpur, Chitrakoot, Ayodhya, Basti, Azamgarh and Mirzapur will be voting in the second phase on May 11.
Prior to the State Election Commission's announcement of poll dates, the Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Department released a notification indicating the final reservation for mayoral seats. According to this notification, out of the 17 mayoral seats, nine would be reserved for specific categories: one for the Scheduled Caste category in Jhansi, one for a Scheduled Caste woman in Agra, two for OBC women in Shahjahanpur and Firozabad, two for the OBC category in Saharanpur and Meerut, and three for women in Lucknow, Kanpur, and Ghaziabad.
According to SEC, over 96.36 lakh new voters have been added to the electoral rolls for the urban local bodies elections.
In the local bodies elections held in 2017, the total number of voters was a little over 3.36 crore which has now increased to 4.32 crore.
WILL BJP MANAGE TO REPEAT THE 2017 PERFORMANCE?
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an unprecedented 14 out of 16 mayoral seats in the urban local bodies elections in 2017. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) won two seats, Meerut and Aligarh, while Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress could not open their accounts.
The saffron party had won 11 of the 13 mayoral seats in 2012.
However, the political observers believe repeating the previous performance for BJP would be an uphill task as Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav settled their differences after Mulayam Singh Yadav's death.
Under its new strategy, the SP chief post-2022 Assembly polls left no stone unturned to unite the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and dalits to counter the aggressive Hindutva agenda of the ruling BJP.
Akhilesh Yadav has recently unveiled a statue of Kanshi Ram, the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and a dalit leader, at Manyavar Kanshi Ram Mahavidyalaya in Rae Bareli. In addition to focusing on the Muslim-Yadav equation, Akhilesh Yadav has also made efforts to connect with the dalit community, stating that the ideology of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia aligns with the vision of BR Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram for the upliftment of marginalised groups.
He is constantly raising the issue of caste census for OBCs.
Swami Prasad Maurya, a prominent OBC leader in Uttar Pradesh, kicked off a controversy, saying epic Ramcharitmanas, — a 16th-century poem written by Goswami Tuslidas, has "objectionable language" for dalits, tribals and backward class. He said certain verses of the poem "insult" a large section of the society based on caste and demanded that those be "banned".
According to statistics from the last three civic body elections, Congress performed poorly. After the announcement of the 2023 civic body elections, the country's oldest party is focusing on proving itself strong in civic elections before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections with Muslim, OBC and dalit cards.
Speaking to NewsClick, Sudhir Panwar, professor at the University of Lucknow and a former member of the Planning Commission, argued that religious polarisation helped the saffron party in the previous local body elections, but it won't happen this time.
"The trend of civic elections is different from assembly polls as there is no such constituency in urban bodies. It is all about personality-centric elections, and the party has no big role. If the elections are not rigged, BJP will definitely lose some of its representatives. Second, dalits are in a dilemma and looking for political support as they feel the BSP is nowhere in the contest and BJP is not giving the representation they deserve; they might shift towards SP this time," he said.
BJP'S PASMANDA POLITICS
For the last year, with the BJP's outreach programme focussing on pasmanda (Backward) Muslims, the party has launched aggressive campaigns with at least half a dozen such events featuring top ministers of Yogi government 2.0 and dozens of events in western Uttar Pradesh, where pasmanda Muslims have a sizable presence.
The top leadership has indicated that the party may field Muslim candidates in minority-dominated areas. However, the party had not fielded any Muslim candidates in the 2017 ULB elections.
While the BJP has not yet finalised the names of the minority-dominated wards where it will field Muslims, the expert believes most of the wards are situated in Western Uttar Pradesh, including Rampur, Meerut, Agra, Muzaffarnagar, Bareilly, Agra, Bijnor and Saharanpur.
Wasim Akram Tyagi, a journalist based in Meerut, told NewsClick, "BJP has always dominated in corporation elections. The performance will be the same as in 2017 and 2012, but there is no pasmanda appeasement on the ground, and it will not work either, no matter whether BJP fields Muslim candidates. The reason is in most of the violence, mob lynching, those killed/attacked are pasmanda Muslims, and the community will never vote for the party who could not utter a single word against atrocities against the minority."
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