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Samajwadi Party may encounter trouble in the fifth phase of UP elections

As Uttar Pradesh assembly elections enter the fifth phase, the Samajwadi Party might find itself in a difficult situation

As Uttar Pradesh assembly elections enter the fifth phase, the Samajwadi Party might find itself in a difficult situation. Samajwadi Party's lifeline-, the MY(Muslim-Yadav) combination and even the number of the aggrieved Jats seemed to be weaker in the majority of the 61 assembly constituencies going to polls on Sunday. The SP, fighting without an influential ally would have to pull all its weight to stand up to BJP which had routed the opposition by winning 47 of the 61 seats in 2017. The districts going to the polls include Ayodhya, Amethi, Rae Bareli, Chitrakoot, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Bahraich, Barabanki, Gonda and Shravasti.

With Ayodhya going to the polls, the VHP distributed "prasad" and "soil" from the Ram temple and urged the voters to elect a "nationalist government", the chief minister while the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath asked the voters, "Jin logon ne karsewakon ke upar goliyan chalwayi, kya who Ram Mandir banwa paate? (Those who fired upon the Karsewaks, could they have been able to construct the Ram temple?)"

Regardless of the Ram Mandir, unemployment, price rise and menace of the bulls in eastern UP have emerged as key issues during this election. The bull menace worsened following the collapse of the cattle market after the BJP came to power in 2017. The farmers are agitated by the stray cows and bulls trampling over their corps. Many farmers were gored to death by the rampaging bulls in their attempts to protect the fields.

Sensing that the bulls and cows were creating a major electoral hurdle for the BJP, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi promised voters of a new policy to deal with the menace. SP leader, Akhilesh Yadav had earlier assured the electorates that if his party came to power, it "will give a compensation of Rs  five lakhs to those who lost their lives while protecting their fields." Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi wrapped up her campaign for the fifth phase saying- "PM is aware of Ukraine crisis but not of the problems being created by the stray cattle."

Meanwhile with the backward caste playing a key role, this particular phase would test the allies of both the BJP and SP.

Fighting over Kurmis would be daughter Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal (S) a BJP ally and Apna Dal (K) led by mother Krishna Patel who has joined hands with the SP. The SP would also be relying on the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by a former minister in the Yogi government, Om Prakash Rajbhar. The SBSP's hold over backward communities including Kumhar, Prajapati, Kori, Bind and Kushwaha would be tested in this phase.

The BJP on the other hand has given 16 seats to Dr Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party. Dr Nishad had been claiming that his party has an influence over 150 of the 403 seats in the state. For the record, of the 72 candidates fielded by the Nishad Party in 2017, only one had managed to win. The SP would also be banking heavily on the influence of the OBC leaders like Sami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan, who recently quit the BJP to throw their weights behind Akhilesh Yadav.