Politicians go through grind as campaigning nears end in western UP
As campaigning for 73 assembly segments slated to go to polls in the first of the seven-phased Uttar Pradesh assembly elections nears end at 5 p.m. on Thursday, politicians of all hues are busy making all-out efforts to woo the voters.
Amid the cacophony drummed up in the run-up to the Saturday's voting, politicians have left no stone unturned to dish out promises galore to the voters who - for a few weeks, which happens every five years or so - have been exalted to the status of kingmakers, if not the kings.
Media advertisements, billboards, party flags and catchy jingles are all aimed at wooing the 2.57 crore voters - including 1.17 crore women - who will decide the fate of many contenders in the first phase. Of the 2.57 crore eligible voters, over 24 lakh are in the age group of 18-19.
Candidates and their enthusiastic supporters are not only braving the grime of roads in the rural areas but also the night chill, not to mention increasing incidents of poll violence to reach out to the voters.
On offer to the voters are "five-year warranties" if the particular candidates are chosen as people's representatives. Other sops include free pressure cookers, smartphones (Samajwadi Party), cycles (Congress) to loan waivers for farmers and prompt payment to sugar-cane growers (Bharatiya Janata Party) and freedom from 'goonda raaj' (Bahujan Samaj Party.
How desperate candidates can be for a win in the high-stake electoral battle can be seen from the example of a Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate in Khurja in Bulandshahr. He allegedly got his younger brother killed and then tried to get his political rivals entangled in the crime and garner sympathy votes. However, his luck was clearly not on his side and he was exposed.
While the lesser politicians are going through the rought and tumble on the ground, political bigwigs are heli-hopping to various constituencies spread across Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Etah, Firozabad and Kasganj.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is addressing rallies in Mathura, Haters, Firozabad and Agra; Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh in Tateri village of Baghpat, Noida, Haters and Mathura; RLD chief Ajit Singh will canvass in Badaut, Baghpat and Chaprauli; and BSP heavyweight Naseemuddin Siddiqui in Chaprauli.
Kannauj MP and Chief Minister's wife Dimple Yadav will hold a public rally in Kanpur, Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen will campaign in Amroha, firebrand BJP MP Yogi Adityanath is visiting Shahjahanpur and Jalalabad whereas senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Ghulam Nabi Azad will woo voters in Nathaur. Cine actress Naghma will campaign for the Congress candidate in Chandler (Bijnore).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did exceedingly well in this region in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
In the 2012 assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP bagged 24 seats each. The BJP won only 11, RLD nine and the Congress five. This time, The Congress has allied with the SP.
Whether the latest political permutations and combinations get the voters' nod and for whom will be known only on March 11, when the counting takes place.