UP elections begin today

Act I of the seven part UP thriller will unfold as volatile western UP goes to the polls. The fortunes of the BJP and the BSP in particular hang in the balance as both will look for a head start in their race for office.

The polls cover 73 constituencies spread over 15 districts, and while the fight is definitely triangular, the political topography does not favour the SP-Congress combination. But the combine's success with minority votes.

The other player is Jat leader Ajit Singh whose RLD is facing its toughest battle ever. The outfit must overcome polarisation after the 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots that drove Jats towards thr BJP . This time, the RLD is seen to be in the reckoning, but its fate is tied to the suppor it will receive from other communities in the state. In 2014, a highly polarised atmosphere and Modi's appeal saw the BJP sweep all 12 Lok Sabha seats in the region. Expectedly , the BJP is using the elections in 15 districts with a high concentration of Muslim population to pitch its core issues like “Hindu exodus“, triple talaq, ban on slaughterhouses as well as its development pitch and farm loan waiver promise.

BSP chief Mayawati, on the other hand, will hope that her `chemical formula' to form a bond between her Dalit voters and Muslims, riding on the large number of minority candidates, pays off. Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi are banking on their alliance coming across as the best bet for Muslim voters keen to stall the BJP , besides retaining the aggressive loyalty of Yadavs for the SP.

In the 2012 assembly polls, the BSP and the SP shared 24 seats each from the region, leaving just 11 for the BJP, nine for the RLD and five for the Congress.

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