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Yogi Adityanath makes his debut in assembly elections as seventh round of polling in UP begins

Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath is contesting from Gorakhpur Urban seat makes his debut in the assembly elections (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@myogiadityanath)

As the voting for the penultimate round of the seven-phase polling in Uttar Pradesh gets underway, Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath contesting from Gorakhpur Urban seat makes his debut in the assembly elections. Yogi Adityanath who has contested Lok Sabha polls from Gorakhpur five times between 1994 to 2014 was elected to the UP Legislative Council after he took over as the Chief Minister of the state in 2017.

Even as Yogi Adityanath's victory is being viewed as a foregone conclusion, all eyes are on the performance of the Bahujan Samaj Party in the sixth phase. The majority of the 57 seats going to polls today are dominated by the backwards caste besides Dalits and Muslims. BSP is expected to put up a strong fight in almost all the 10 districts which include Siddharthnagar, Kushinagar, Balrampur, Maharajganj, Sant Kabir Nagar, Basti, Ambedkar Nagar, Deoria, Ballia and Gorakhpur. Of the 19 seats, BSP won in the 2017 assembly elections, five were from this belt. The saffron spin doctors argued that a "strong BSP would dent the SP vote bank and this will only benefit the BJP."

It may be recalled in his recent interaction with the media, Union Home Minister, Amit Shah went on to speak about the political "relevance" of the BSP. The Home Minister was of the opinion that besides the Jatav votes, BSP chief, Mayawati "will also attract Muslim votes." The Home Minister had claimed: "Parinam dekhiyega. BSP ne apni relevance banaye rakhi hain (watch out for results, BSP remains quite relevant)." He then went on to add: "Musalmaan vote hi kaafi season par milega (BSP will also get Muslim vote in several seats.)  Touched by the endorsement, Mayawati thanked the Home Minister for his "greatness." Of the 403 seats while SP and its allies have fielded 61 Muslim candidates BSP fielded 88. BJP is hoping for the resurgence of Mayawati as she would eat into the SP's vote bank. In the 2017 assembly polls, of the 57 seats going to polls in this region today, BJP had won 46.

Latching on to Mandal politics the SP chief, Akhilesh Yadav is banking on the OBC leaders who left BJP to counter the BSP influence. Some of the OBC leaders, the SP chief was banking on include Swami Prasad Maurya, who recently switched over from BJP to SP and Om Prakash Rajbhar's Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party(SBSP). Maurya in his new avatar is contesting from Fazilnagar on SP ticket.

The BJP was also hoping that the move to field Yogi from Gorakhpur urban would also influence the neighbouring districts which include Maharajganj, Deoria and Kushinagar.

Also Read: Is campaign about OBC exodus from the BJP in Uttar Pradesh a canard ?

Also Read: Advantage BJP in western UP as cracks surface in SP-RLD alliance