With the largest chunk of Lok Sabha constituencies (80 seats) allotted to it, the state of Uttar Pradesh holds the magic key to the crucial General Elections and it`s not an enigma that the route to 7, Race Course Road goes through this politically strategic state.
UP will have six-phase polls starting from April 10 and will end on May 12. The polling dates for the state are April 10, April 17, April 24 , April 30 , May 07, May 12.
The major political parties in the crucial state are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP). Other parties, less prominent but significant in alliance formations are the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Communist Party of India (CPI). The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a new entrant on the complex political canvas of UP.
The BJP`s PM candidate Narendra Modi, who is riding high on his popularity wave, is set to contest election from Varanasi, a religiously significant constituency for the Hindus.
Spicing up the matters, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has decided to challenge Modi, by contesting from Varanasi.
Other key BJP candidates, contesting from the state of UP are, the BJP chief Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Murali Manohar Joshi (Kanpur) and Kalraj Misra from Deoria.
UP is also home to Congress high command Sonia Gandhi`s constituency – Rae Bareli and also the party vice president Rahul Gandhi`s bastion Amethi. AAP leader Kumar Vishwas has taken up the cudgels against Rahul, by deciding to challenge him from Amethi.
The RLD is contesting the coming Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the Congress and has been assigned eight seats in the state. It had won five seats in 2009 in partnership with the BJP.
Jaya Prada and Amar Singh, who recently joined the RLD, are contesting from Bijnore and Fatehpur Sikri respectively.
Most of the opinion polls have painted a grim picture for the Congress-led UPA alliance in the state, however the predictions are pretty good for the BJP, which is seen garnering the largest number of seats.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the BJP had bagged 17.5% vote share with 10 seats in UP. The Congress` vote share was marginally higher (18.25%) but its tally stood at 21 seats - more than double the BJP’s.
The major factors that decide voting patterns in UP are caste and religion, but with Modi hardselling his “development plank”, one can`t clearly predict which way the votes would tilt.
The state of UP , which is known for its complex vote bank arithmetic, might see a significant change in the inclination of voters especially after the Muzaffarnagar riots, which will result in Muslims and Jats` votes going separate ways.