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BJP to Retain Power in a 37-Year First for State; Akhilesh May Gain at Maya, Cong Expense

Nearly all exit polls on Monday predicted a win for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, with Axis-My India projecting the biggest margin with 288-326 seats for the ruling party, which would be a repeat of 2017.

The BJP’s pitch of free rations, the ‘bulldozer’ action to drive out mafia, women safety and security, the Narendra Modi face and Yogi Adityanath’s Hindutva pitch with the ‘80-20’ slogan at the onset of the election would have done the trick for the BJP if these numbers hold true on March 10.

The party leaders believe that the silent women voters have backed the BJP in Uttar Pradesh firmly on account of free rations for two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and the inherent ‘fear’ of bringing back the alleged lawlessness and hooliganism days of Samajwadi Party government in the state.

The exit polls predict that the Samajwadi Party will give a tough fight compared to 2017 when it won just 47 seats, but will fall way short of the majority mark. This may be strikingly similar to Tejashwi Yadav’s fate in the Bihar polls. If this happens in UP, it would be despite anger against the BJP government on grounds of unemployment and stray cattle as well as the rising inflation in fuel prices.

The Samajwadi Party tied up with the RLD in west UP and SBSP party of Om Prakash Rajbhar in east UP for wider caste coalition and some prominent OBC leaders of the BJP also jumped ship to the SP. But, exit polls predict this was not enough.

Privately, multiple BJP leaders told during the campaign that the alliance would fall from 325 seats in 2017 to about 230-270 seats this time and return to power for a second consecutive time, as per the ground reports with the BJP. A majority of exit polls also indicate the same.

These leaders say the ultimate number does not matter as this would be the first time since 1985 when a party will be able to repeat its government in UP and even strong Chief Ministers like Kalyan Singh, Rajnath Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati or even Akhilesh Yadav were not able to achieve this over the years.

CM Yogi Adityanath, however, constantly maintained during the campaign that his alliance would win over 300 seats in these elections. The Axis-My India exit poll points in this direction.

Huge crowds at the rallies and road shows of Akhilesh Yadav have enthused the Samajwadi Party over the last two months. SP believes the cyclic nature of UP politics will bring it back to power on the back of the ‘caste politics’ card played by Yadav.

Nearly all exit polls also predict a decimation for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and the Priyanka Gandhi Vadra-led Congress in Uttar Pradesh and indicate that it was a bipolar fight between the BJP and SP.

The ‘Ladki hun Lad Sakti Hun’ campaign of the Congress seems to have rung no bell in UP, as per the exit polls. Mayawati’s claims of rallying Brahmin and Muslim voters also seems to have not translated on the ground, the exit polls indicate. However, the Jatav voters may have still stuck with the BSP, the polls show.

A win for Yogi Adityanath, as predicted by the exit polls, would cement his place in the top troika of the BJP’s national leadership which comprises PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Modi had thrown his weight behind Yogi as the Chief Minister in 2017 and the Chief Ministerial face in 2022. Yogi, who alone did over 200 rallies and road shows during the campaign, could emerge as the strongest chief minister in the country if these exit polls hold true on March 10.

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