Sunday, February 19, 2017

Uttar Pradesh Election 2017: Awadh region witnessed 45 of the 109 narrow-margin victories in 2012 polls

The battle for Uttar Pradesh has begun. Two phases of the seven-phase election are over and the polls to elect the 403-member state Assembly is reaching fever pitch. The biggest state in India is witnessing a three-cornered fight this election between the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Multi-cornered contests have been the trend at least since 2002, when elections that year had thrown up a hung Assembly, while in the 2007 and 2012 polls, the BSP and the SP won clear mandates to form the government. With such contests emerge the possibility of many seats being won by a whisker.

In the 2012 Assembly elections, 109 seats were won by either less than three percent of the total votes polled or by a margin of less than 6,000 votes. This translates to more than 25 percent of the total seats of in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. Of the 109 narrow margin victories witnessed last election, 50 of them were registered by the SP, which ultimately emerged victorious in 226 seats. BSP, its arch-rival was victorious in 28 such seats.

Interestingly, 24 of the 109 seats were won by less than a thousand votes. The narrowest of victory was recorded in the Baheri constituency, where Ataurrehman of the SP defeated his nearest rival Chhtrapal Singh of the BJP by just 18 votes.

In caste-dominated Uttar Pradesh politics, close contests were recorded in 12 of the 85 constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes candidates.

Of the 12 reserved constituencies, Ghatampur recorded the lowest margin of victory, as Inderjeet Kori of the SP barely managed to win a nail-biting contest by a margin of 700 votes.

42 of the 150 seats in western Uttar Pradesh were won by narrow margin

In 2012 elections, 22 of the 73 western Uttar Pradesh seats were won by a margin of less than three percent of the votes polled. Known to be communally sensitive, especially after the riots of Muzaffarnagar, the Dadri lynching case and alleged exodus in Kairana, western Uttar Pradesh is in the centrestage of this year's elections. In fact, the key accused in the 2013 riots, Suresh Rana, managed to win the Thana Bhawan seat by a margin of a paltry 265 votes. Western Uttar Pradesh went to polls in the first phase of Assembly election on 11 February 2017.

In 2012, however, it was another BJP leader Bimla Singh Solanki, who recorded the lowest margin of victory in the western part of the state. In a close contest with BSP’s Saleem Akhtar Khan, Solanki pulled off a victory in the Sikandrabad constituency by a margin of just 123 votes.

In the second phase of election on 15 February, 67 seats in the Muslim-dominated Rohilkhand region, a part of western Uttar Pradesh, went to polls. Twenty of those seats were won by less than three percent of the total votes polled in the last election. Behat constituency had witnessed a close contest last time, as Mahaveer Singh Rana of the BSP narrowly defeated Naresh of the Indian National Congress by 518 votes. Behat went to polls on 15 February.

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