The rivetting seven-phase Uttar Pradesh election is nearing culmination with a grand finale to be played out in the Purvanchal (Eastern UP) turfs of the formidable Modi-Yogi duo.
Even as five phases have already been completed, the final two rounds are scheduled on March 3 and 7 respectively before the counting of votes on March 10.
While Gorakhpur, the pocket borough of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, will witness polling on Thursday (Mar 3), the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will go to polls on Monday (Mar 7).
The eponymous Modi-Yogi pair is leading the charge of the ruling BJP in blunting the opposition onslaught and overcoming the stiff anti-incumbency factor.
Acknowledging the importance of the final two phases in course correcting and gaining any lost grounds in terms of vote percentage, the BJP has pulled all stops to mobilise support and galvanise its rank and file in the remaining 19 of total 75 districts lined up for polling.
While Adityanath is staying put in Gorakhpur holding roadshows and public meetings, Modi has been addressing back to back rallies in the Eastern UP districts over the past few days to catalyse the momentum in favour of the saffron outfit.
Modi will stay in Varanasi for three consecutive days during Mar 3-5 and address rallies in nearby districts of Jaunpur and Chadauli.
The BJP, which was expecting a smooth ride in the UP polls due to a fragmented opposition, is clearly stumped by the Samajwadi Party (SP) gaining traction in its rallies during the successive phases of polling.
At the same time, the agenda of unemployment, economic challenges and hardships following the pandemic in UP has assumed greater significance with the opposition parties viz. SP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress raising the hackles in their rallies and door to door campaigns.
The 6th phase of polling on Thursday will span 57 assembly constituencies in 10 districts viz Ambedkar Nagar, Balrampur, Siddharthnagar, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Maharajganj, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria and Ballia.
Likewise the final 7th phase of polling on Monday will cover 54 segments across 9 districts including Azamgarh, Mau, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Bhadohi, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.
Addressing a rally in Gorakhpur on Tuesday, Adityanath asserted only BJP could provide a stable and strong government even as he warned anti-social elements about the stern action that his government would continue to take to curb crime and corruption.
On an average, the voting percentage in the first five phases of UP polls logged 60 percent polling. There are about 150 million people who are eligible to cast their votes in UP.
Considering that the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are merely two years away, the results of the UP polls would hold much significance to India’s federal elections too. History shows that the party which rules in UP is always powerful at the Centre also. As such, the BJP is treating the state elections from the prism of 2024 polls as well.