THE 403-Assembly seat Uttar Pradesh is broadly categorised politically and culturally into four regions — Pashchim, Central, Bundelkhand and Purvanchal – with parties tailoring their message to each as Election 2022 progressed.
Earlier, there had been a demand to carve out separate states from UP, especially Purvanchal and Bundelkhand regions. The last major initiative in this regard was in 2011 under the BSP government, when the Assembly passed a proposal to divide the state into four parts. However, elections had come soon after, and Chief Minister Mayawati had not been able to take this up.
Last year, after there was talk of a plan to bifurcate the state, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had come out with a statement refuting this, saying he believed in “uniting” and “not dividing”.
Pashchim, also referred as “Harit Pradesh”
Districts: 26; Constituencies: 136
2017 results: 110 BJP, 20 SP, 3 BSP, 2 Congress, 1 RLD
Spread roughly across the first two phases of the polls this time, the region known for its “ganna (sugarcane) belt” was the first to vote. In UP, the protests over the farmer laws were confined to this region, and the SP tied up with the RLD to cash in on this. Their alliance, on paper, brings together the two major communities of the region, Muslims and Jats.
The central theme of the BJP campaign, including by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, here were the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots which saw violence between Muslims and Jats, with the party warning people that “dangai (lumpens)” and “mafiawadi (criminals)” would come back to power again if the SP won.
After sweeping the 2017 polls from here, the BJP had picked several winning MLAs from the region as ministers.
For the SP too, it is a prestige battle to see if it can win back a region from where it won 56 seats in 2012. The constituency from where SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is contesting this time, Karhal, also falls in western UP.
For RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, leading the party into elections for the first time, after father Ajit Singh’s death last year, the polls will determine his political career.
Districts 7; Constituencies: 19
2017: All seats to BJP, allies
In 2012, the spoils in this region were evenly divided: 3 seats to the BJP, 6 to the SP, 5 to the BSP, 4 to the Congress. The whole-hearted vote for the BJP in 2017 was seen as a vote for change, by this backward and water-starved region.
The BJP is hoping its Bundelkhand Expressway, with a defence corridor alongside it, will win the region for the party again.
However, the SP as well as BSP and Congress fancy their chances here, especially in Lalitpur and Mahoba. To woo OBCs and Dalits, the SP deployed for campaigning Swami Prasad Maurya, who crossed over from the BJP just ahead of the elections.
Central Uttar Pradesh (Awadh):
Districts: 14, Constituencies: 85
2017: 71 BJP, 9 SP, 2 BSP, 3 Congress
The heart of UP holds not just the state capital but also the Gandhi and Yadav family bastions. The BJP campaign here highlighted the court verdict in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case, accusing the SP of shielding “terrorists”.
The SP is hoping the Lakhimpur Kheri incident where farmers were killed after being allegedly run over by a vehicle driven by a BJP Union minister’s son will have an impact. “Khet bachao tar se, kisan bachao Thar se (Save farms with barbed wire, save farmers from Thar vehicle),” was one of its slogans. Thar being a reference to the vehicle that hit the farmers.
Out of 7 seats that the Congress won across the state last time, three were from this region, a performance that the party will hope to repeat, if not better.
Districts: 28; Seats : 164
2017: BJP 115, SP 17, BSP 14, Congress 2, others 16
The region was once considered the stronghold of the SP, with the party winning 102 seats here when it formed the government in 2012. However, the BJP took most of the seats in 2017. The SP is hoping some of the anger among the migrant hubs here over the Covid lockdown and the resultant problems they suffered, will play out in these polls.
Even the Congress is looking on hopefully, as despite its slide across UP, it had got about 15 seats from this region in 2012.
The BJP had its big guns out here campaigning: from Adityanath, who is contesting from Gorakhpur Urban, to Prime Minister Modi, who camped in Varanasi to ensure no slide in his parliamentary constituency. BJP ally Apna Dal (S) is expected to pull in the Kurmi votes, while the NISHAD Party is hoping for votes of Nishads, Kewats, Bhind.
Purvanchal will also test how the SP gamble of tying up with “non-Yadav” OBC leaders plays out. Its candidates here include former BSP loyalists Ram Achal Rajbhar and Lalji Verma, ex-BJP minister Swami Prasad Maurya, and SBSP leaders.