Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center). Photo: Prakash SINGH / AFP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: AFP / Prakash Singh

Riding on Modi-wave 2.0, with national security as chief plank in its campaign platform, backed by intricate caste calculations and intelligent candidate selection, Bhartiya Janta Party appears set to win another big victory in the politically significant state Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is leading in the contests for at least 58 seats out of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh as of now, as counting in the 2019 general elections continues. The trends have surprised political analysts and pre-poll surveyors who had been predicting a major loss for the BJP this time owing to anti-incumbency feeling, a jobs crisis and formation of an anti-BJP regional alliance ahead of elections.

On the other hand, the NDA’s tally in 2014 polls was bigger – 73. The current numbers suggest the longer-term trend is that the BJP is loosening its grip in the state that plays the biggest role in deciding who will rule the country. The state sends the maximum number of ministers to the parliament.

The mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) comprising big regional players Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which looked strong on paper mainly due to its victories in crucial by-elections last year through near-perfect vote transfers, has not clicked much in the general elections 2019. SP and BSP came together after a decade in hopes to defeat Modi’s party but are failing to do so.

 The alliance is leading in the contests for 19 seats (BSP on 11 and SP on 8 seats). Major Samajwadi leaders such as SP chief Akhilesh Yadav (the Azamgarh seat), his father Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri), wife Dimple Yadav (Kannauj), cousin Dharmendra Yadav (Badayun) and Azam Khan (Rampur) are much ahead at the end of four rounds of the vote counting. However, RLD’s Jayant Chaudhary is trailing by a margin of 8,000 votes in Baghpat.

On the plus side, the experiment of the alliance seems to have brought some good fortune for the trio of parties. In the 2014 polls, which the three parties fought separately, SP, BSP and RLD won 5, 0 and 0 seats, respectively.

Indian National Congress, India’s main political party, has been leading in the contest for just one seat – Rai Bareli, where Sonia Gandhi is contesting. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is trailing behind union minister Smriti Irani in Amethi constituency, which he represented four times in a row. The party won only those two seats in 2014. 

Former Congress president and incumbent member of parliament Sonia Gandhi is leading in the Rae Bareli constituency with 8,000 votes. A four-time MP from the constituency, she is contesting against her own aide Dinesh Pratap Singh, who switched from the Congress to the BJP just before the polls. Rahul Gandhi is trailing behind Smriti Irani with a margin of over 7,000 votes in Amethi. 

 NDA Stalwarts set to win

 BJP top leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Varanasi), Home Minister Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), textile minister Smriti Irani (Amethi), actor Ravi Kishan (Gorakhpur), Varun Gandhi (Pilibhit) and Sakshi Maharaj (Unnao) are clearly ahead of their rivals at the end of four rounds of counting. BJP ally Apna Dal (A)’s Anurpriya Patel is also leading for the Mirzapur seat.

However, IT minister Manoj Sinha (Ghazipur) and women and child development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi (Sultanpur) are trailing as of now. Rita Bahuguna Joshi (WCD minister in Uttar Pradesh) is leading from Allahabad (Prayagraj).

BJP is trailing in prominent western Uttar Pradesh seats such as Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar and Moradabad and in eastern Uttar Pradesh seats Rampur, Jaunpur, Machlishahar, Ghazipur, Azamgarh, Lalganj, Ballia and Ghosi. These are the seats BJP won last elections.

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