The Election Commission of India on Saturday declared the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2022 schedule, announcing voting in seven phases on the following dates: February 10 (Thursday), February 14 (Monday), February 20 (Sunday), February 23 (Wednesday), February 27 (Sunday), March 3 (Thursday) and March 7 (Monday).
The Uttar Pradesh election results 2022 will be declared on March 10 (Thursday) when counting of votes in UP takes place along with four other poll-bound states – Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The term of the current Uttar Pradesh Assembly ends in May and those of the other four state Assemblies ends on different dates in March.
With the announcement of the Assembly elections schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force across Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The last day of voting in the upcoming election season will be March 7, typically the day when exit polls results are announced.
This is the second tranche of state elections to be held in India since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu had voted during the second coronavirus wave in March-April 2020.
This time too, Omicron-triggered third Covid-19 wave has forced political parties to alter plans for election rallies, with some like the BJP gearing up for virtual rallies. The Election Commission has also barred rallies and marches of any kind till January 15, while post-results victory processions have been banned too.
The shift to virtual rallies could play to the advantage of the ruling Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh where the BJP has strong digital connect.
Numbers in Uttar Pradesh Assembly
The Uttar Pradesh Assembly has a total of 403 seats, with 202 being the majority mark. These 403 constituencies are distributed across seven broad regions – West UP (44 constituencies), Ruhelkhand (52), Doab (73), Awadh (78), Bundelkhand (19), East UP (76) and North East UP (61).
In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, the BJP had swept to power with 312 seats, while the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party managed 47. Mayawati’s BSP had to contend with 19 seats and the Congress was relegated to the fourth spot in the politically significant state with just seven seats. The tenure of the current UP Assembly ends on May 14, 2022.
Where the Parties Stand
The BJP is gunning for a second consecutive term in the state with Yogi Adityanath as its chief ministerial face, pitching it as a crucial step in ensuring Narendra Modi’s return at the Centre for a third straight term in 2024. If the BJP does win the Assembly elections, Yogi Adityanath would be the first consecutively recurring Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister since 1985.
The party had announced six yatras in the state ahead of elections, covering Awadh, Kashi, Gorakhpur, Brij, western UP and Bundelkhand, but their current fate is unknown given the rise in Covid-19 cases and concerns over large public gatherings.
Underscoring the political significance of Uttar Pradesh, PM Narendra Modi visited the state around 10 times in November and December, unveiling several projects. The most notable among was the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor and the Purvanchal Expressway and the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Ganga Expressway. Yogi Adityanath’s “dream project”, the Gorakhpur fertilizer plant, was also inaugurated by the PM in December.
While the BJP has been pitching the “Modi-Yogi twin engine” formula for development, the Samajwadi Party has banked on its alliance with RLD’s Jayant Singh Chaudhary to tap into the farmers’ resentment over the recently repealed farm laws. It has also tied up with Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, which could be beneficial in the Purvanchal region.
Akhikesh Yadav, too, has embarked on a phased ‘Samajwadi Vijay Rath Yatra’, hoping it results in political dividends as it did in 2012. The SP is also buoyed by the rapprochement in the Yadav clan with uncle Shivpal Yadav back in the fold after five years.
The Congress charge, meanwhile, is being led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who has attempted to corner the Yogi Adityanath government on the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and the Hathras gang-rape and murder case. Her brother and party leader Rahul Gandhi is currently missing in election action, embarking on another personal foreign trip before the poll season.
Days before the polls, the Congress has also suffered the loss of Raebareli MLA Aditi Singh who switched over to the BJP. Raebareli is considered to be a Congress bastion, represented for long by Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.
The fourth major player in the fray, the Bahuhan Samaj Party, has stayed away from yatra politics. It is instead focusing on ‘Brahmin Sammelans’ to woo upper caste voters who helped Mayawati form the government in 2007.