First phase poll: ‘Caste and religion set to dominate west UP’

Lucknow: In Western Uttar Pradesh, the conclusion of the first phase of nominations sets the stage for an electrifying electoral contest, where alliances, demographics, and strategic maneuvers are poised to shape the outcome.

"As candidates file their nominations, the intricate interplay of caste, religion, and political alliances comes into sharp focus," remarked Manoj Bhadra, a seasoned political analyst closely monitoring the unfolding developments.

Amidst the bustling political arena, a three-cornered contest emerges, pitting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Samajwadi Party (SP)-led INDIA bloc, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) against each other. Each faction is eager to assert its dominance and secure vital constituencies in the region.

"The BJP's ambitious target of 80/80 seats in Uttar Pradesh adds an element of high stakes to the electoral dynamics, while the SP and BSP are determined to defend their support bases," said Surendra Chaudhry, a Professor of Political Science in Meerut Degree College, encapsulating the intensity of the electoral battle.

The alliance between the BJP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) faces intense scrutiny as it prepares for a rigorous test of its collective strength. "The success of this alliance hinges on navigating the diverse political landscape of Western Uttar Pradesh," emphasized Manish Dixit, a senior BJP official, acknowledging the challenges ahead.

Reflecting on past elections, where the BJP secured significant victories in key constituencies, the SP and BSP are steadfast in their resolve to safeguard their traditional strongholds. However, internal dissent within the SP threatens to undermine its unity, particularly evident in regions like Rampur and Moradabad. "The BSP emerges as a potent force, leveraging its influence among Dalit communities and presenting a formidable challenge to its rivals," noted a political analyst, highlighting the party's strategic outreach and organizational prowess.

As the electoral battleground heats up, key constituencies become focal points of contention. In Muzaffarnagar, Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan's bid for a third term faces stiff competition from opponents across the political spectrum.

Meanwhile, Saharanpur witnesses a battle between former MP Raghav Lakhanpal, Imran Masood (Congress) and BSP's Majid Ali.

The prestige of RLD chief Jayan Chaudhary is at stake in Bijnor where he has fielded Meerapur MLA Chandan Chauhan. The BSP denied the ticket to its sitting MP Maluk Nagar and fielded Chaudhary Vijendra Singh, a Jat leader. Yashvir Singh is the SP candidate. In Kairana, the BJP's Pradeep Choudhary, SP's Iqra Hasan and the BSP's Shripal Singh Rana are in the fray.

In Muzaffarnagar, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan is pitted against the SP's Harendra Malik and the BSP's Dara Singh Prajapati."With each nomination, the pulse of democracy beats louder, as the

electorate eagerly awaits the opportunity to make their voices heard," remarked Surendra Chaudhry.

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