Test of mettle awaits BJP as the second round of the battle UP moves to Rohilkhand, shifting the focus to a largely Muslim electorate, while Goa and Uttarakhand vote in a single phase to determine if the BJP can again beat Congress and anti-incumbency.
In Rohilkhand, six of the nine districts going to the polls in the second of seven phases have the largest concentration of Muslim voters in the whole of the UP.
In 2017, out of these 55 constituencies, Bhartiya Janta Party performed the best, winning 38 seats. Meanwhile, SP won 15, and Congress won just two seats.
This year, there are 586 candidates spread across 55 seats spread across
Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Budaun, Bareilly and Shahjahanpur.
Four sitting ministers of the Yogi Adityanath cabinet and one former minister who jumped the ship to SP, Dharam Singh Saini, are the big names in the fray. Saini is contesting from his home turf Nakur, in Saharanpur.
BJP has fielded ministers Suresh Khanna in Shahjahanpur, Baldev Singh Aulakh in Bilaspur, Mahesh Chandra Gupta in Budaun and Gulab Devi in Chandausi.
The region has nearly two crore voters. Out of them, almost 70 lakh voters are Muslims. Deoband, which houses the Darul Uloom seminary and Bareilly, the Barelvi sect seat, is part of the mix.
The nine districts have traditionally seen high turnout, recording a 68% voting in the previous election of 2017.
In Goa, which has an 11.6 lakh-strong electorate, BJP’s challenge lies as much in putting behind the chaos of the political musical chairs for acquiring tickets preceding the election as in keeping Congress away.
The consensus opinion among analysts is that only Congress can form a non-BJP government, but only with the possibility that voters would have to be convinced by the party not to split votes.
They say that AAP or TMC, or both, could open their accounts in the Goa assembly this time. TMC, powered by Prashant Kishor’s IPAC, has been talking of even forming the next government in Goa.
With its long-time partner MGP refusing to ally with BJP and deciding to go with TMC, BJP is trying to consolidate votes. As a result, BJP is contesting all 40 seats. Meanwhile, Congress has agreed to place candidates in 37 and give three seats to ally GFP.
Uttarakhand is witnessing a triangular contest, with Congress and BJP pitted against each other in most seats and AAP trying to gain a foothold there by contesting all 70 seats. However, the fight could be tighter because of Independents whose parties denied tickets.
There are over 20 seats in where former BJP and Congress members are fighting as Independents after being denied the ticket to fight the election. For Congress, this is a crucial poll after facing defeats in the 2017 state polls and the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.