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Can the BJP once again weave its magic in Uttar Pradesh’s Jatland which goes to the polls tomorrow?

Will the BJP led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is all set to take on the challenge posed by the SP-RLD combine?

In another 24 hours, the BJP is all set to step into the Jat dominant terrains of western Uttar Pradesh. Of 403 Assembly seats in the state, 58 seats in western UP will go to the polls in the first phase on Wednesday.  The first two phases (February 10 and February 14) are expected to set the tone for the remaining five phases.

Following the 13-month long farmers' unrest, the BJP could possibly find it difficult to repeat its performance of the 2017 Assembly election of winning 53 seats in the region. Besides farmers' unrest, other issues troubling the BJP are price rise and unemployment. The BJP has tried to address the issue by promising jobs or self-employment for one member of each family in the state.

Even though it's a multi-corner contest, the main fight is expected to be between the ruling BJP and Samajwadi Party-RLD combination. For the UP chief minister, Yogi Adityanath his challengers are “maal Wahid, lifafa naya hai ( same old stuff in a new package)”.

For him, once again "do ladke (two boys)" are trying to challenge the "might" of the BJP. "But yet again people will show that they are not worthy enough," he said referring to the 2017 Akhilesh Yadav-Rahul Gandhi alliance. This time Akhilesh has paired with RLD chief Jayant Chaudhury to take on the BJP.  While the main contest is between the BJP and SP, the Congress led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and BSP by Mayawati are also working to extract their pound of flesh.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra played the soft Hindutva card on Tuesday to woo the electorates in western UP. She wrapped up her campaign for the first phase by performing a Yamuna Puja amid chanting of Vedic hymns at Mathura's Vishram Ghat. Even as her roadshows have been drawing crowds, it remains to be seen how the party performs under her leadership in the state.

Amid the chaos and cacophony of electioneering, the BSP leader, Mayawati has been working silently. Some reports indicated that BSP was "hoping for a hung Assembly to reap the harvest." In certain pockets in western UP, particularly in the Agra-Mathura belt, the BSP could possibly damage the SP-RLD by eating into their vote banks sources said.

It may be recalled that bagging nearly 50 per cent of the Jat votes, the BJP had swept the region winning 91 of the 113 seats during the 2017 Assembly polls. SP had lagged far behind with only 17 seats. The Jats who comprise only two per cent in the entire state, however, account for 18 per cent in western UP. Muslim population in this region is a little over 25 per cent.

While the SP-RLD was trying to bring the Jat-Muslims-OBC on one platform, the BJP has been attempting to blur the caste line by playing the polarising card, reviving the images of Muzaffarnagar riots and alleged exodus of Hindus from Kairana and Shamli. Promises of "stricter law of Love Jihad", "development of Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura are but a few indications of BJP's effort to flex its Hindutva muscle.

As the campaign ended on Tuesday evening, political heavyweights ranging from Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Home Minister, Amit Shah, UP chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, SP chief, Akhilesh Yadav, RLD chief, Jayant Chaudhury to Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and BSP chief Mayawati thronged the region with their virtual rallies.

Eleven districts in the 58 constituencies going to polls tomorrow include Shamli, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Hapur, Mathura, Agra, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar and Aligarh. While BJP has fielded 17 candidates from the Jat community, RLD has fielded 12 and SP six.

The first phase will decide the fate of at least nine ministers in the Yogi government. This includes Shrikant Sharma, Suresh Raina, Atul Garg, Sandeep Singh, Anil Sharma, Dinesh Kartik, Kapil Dev Aggarwal, G.S. Dharmesh and Chaudhury Laxmi Narain.

Also Read: How crucial will be the voting in the first two phases in Uttar Pradesh?

Also Read: BJP election manifesto in UP woos farmers, aspirational women voters and Hindutva supporters