2018 will see biennial elections in 8 LS seats

2018 will see biennial elections in 8 LS seats
New Delhi: Like last year, 2018 too will see some buzzes with upcoming polls and political developments. It will start with the biennial elections in 8 Lok Sabha seats across the country including Bihar (1), Jammu & Kashmir (1), Rajasthan (2), Maharashtra (1), Uttar Pradesh (2), and West Bengal (1). Meanwhile, the political corridor is abuzz with Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) chief Mayawati's candidature from Phulpur Lok Sabha constituency of UP, after Keshav Prasad Maurya took the MLC route.
It is speculated that she could be the joint candidate of non-saffron parties, while the political observers opined that it would be the litmus test for the "United Oppositions", ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
After her angry walkout from the Rajya Sabha, the BSP chief had hinted many times that she is not afraid of facing the electorate. However, it is also indeed a fact that Mayawati has not faced any direct elections for almost a decade. When she became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh with an absolute majority in 2007, she did opt for nomination to the state legislative council.
BSP has just four members, including party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, left in the Rajya Sabha, who all be completing their tenure in April. In fact, total 58 members are slated to complete their term and retire during the same tenure from the Upper House. Of these 58, at least 10 members have to be elected from UP and after humongous mandates in the UP, Gujarat, and Himachal Assembly polls the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is riding towards 'Mission 2018' which pertains to elections to all 58 seats of Rajya Sabha.
After losing to Samajwadi Party (SP) in 2012, the veteran politician chose to enter the Upper House of the Parliament. Her term will end in April next year, and her party now even does not have numbers to ensure the victory of even one candidate in biennial elections for the council of the states. Thus, she has to be the joint candidate of SP, BSP and Congress.
On the contrary, in the last Assembly polls BJP and its allies convincingly won all five assembly seats in the Lok Sabha constituency, which has been politically significant sending Congress nominees till 1984. From this constituency the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, won in 1952, 1957 and 1962. In his final electoral contest (1962), Nehru defeated socialist ideologue Ram Manohar Lohia.
In 1967, Nehru's sister Vijay Laxmi Pandit won the seat defeating Janeshwar Mishra. The Congress domination later ended by Janata Dal's Ram Pujan Patel's win in 1986. Later in 1996, BSP founder Kanshiram contested and lost from this seat.
Meanwhile, the caste division of the most populous state is another key issue for all intense political gazes. Mayawati's core voters, Dalits share 20 per cent of the demography and another significant population of OBCs—Kurmis (Patels) have been getting divided between SP, BSP and BJP since 2014.
Yadavs, another OBC caste, have also been getting divided between SP and BJP and reportedly they have also voted largely in favor of BJP in the last elections.
Kushwaha, Maurya and Mallah votes have traditionally got divided between BJP and BSP, but these castes shifted in a big way to the saffron party in 2014, when Maurya contested the seat.
The constituency also has 15 per cent Muslims voters and the traditional vote bank of SP. Among upper castes, Brahmins have around 10 per cent of vote share in Phulpur and they are more tilted to the saffron party traditionally. But interestingly, the BSP chief became UP CM in 2007 on the back of a Dalit-Muslim-Brahmin alliance.
The biennial elections would be held earlier this year, sources said.
Simontini Bhattacharjee

Simontini Bhattacharjee

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