Lucknow, April 17: The second phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh will test the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) popularity and also see a shift in strategies by all parties.
The eight seats going to polls in the second phase where polling will be held on April 18 are Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura, Aligarh, Hathras, Amroha, Bulandshahr and Nagina.
All the eight seats had been won by the BJP in 2014 but the party has shuffled candidates in some seats after reports of non-performance by sitting candidates.
The BJP is not making any visible attempts to polarise voters on religious lines but is underlining the need for another term for the Narendra Modi government to fulfil the aspirations of the people.
The SP-BSP alliance and the Congress, on the other hand, are highlighting the failures of the Modi government and the alliance is banking on caste equations.
In Agra, the BJP has opted for Uttar Pradesh Minister S.P. Singh Baghel after shifting the sitting MP Ram Shankar Katehria to Etawah. Agra, now a reserved constituency, has been a BJP citadel and the going seems easy for the BJP again.
The saffron party has also changed its candidate in Fatehpur Sikri. The BJP MP Chaudhary Babulal has been denied ticket and this has angered his supporters. The BJP candidate Rajkumar Chahar is banking on Jat votes.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded a turncoat Guddu Pandit while the state Congress President Raj Babbar is trying to demolish caste barriers and seek votes on development issues.
In Mathura, actor Hema Malini is seeking a second term in Lok Sabha but her public relation department is rather poor. Her husband and veteran actor Dharmendra has also campaigned for Hema Malini who is being strongly challenged by Rashtrya Lok Dal’s Narendra Singh.
BJP MP Satish Gautam, who kicked up the Jinnah controversy, is re-contesting the Aligarh seat. He is banking on the 27 per cent upper caste votes but the consolidation of Other Backward Classes and Dalit votes in favour of the SP-BSP alliance could upset the apple cart.
Nagina and Amroha seats have a strong Muslim presence — 42 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively. Both the seats also have a sizeable Dalit and OBC presence and it is this that is making the alliance hopeful of wresting these seats from the BJP.
BJP has fielded Kanwar Singh Tanwar from Amroha while the BSP candidate is Kunwar Danish Ali. The Congress candidate here is Sachin Chaudhary.
In Nagina, the Congress has fielded former MP Omvati while the BJP candidate in Dr Yashwant.