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Panchayat polls: Setback for BJP in western UP

Political observers say that the BJP has the power to leverage support of independent candidates and will manage to get their people elected.

AGRA: Despite being in power for the past four years and its spectacular performance in Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) faced a major setback in panchayat polls as it failed to garner majority seats in Mathura, Mainpuri and Aligarh.
The local body polls were held less than a year before the assembly elections are scheduled in the state.
The ongoing farmers’ protests and the shoddy handling of the Covid crisis during the past month could have contributed to BJP’s debacles, say political experts.
In Mathura, the temple town, the BJP managed to win only eight of the 33 zila panchayat seats, while the Bahujan Samaj Party emerged the biggest gainer with 13 seats. The remaining seats were shared by Rashtriya Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party and independent candidates who won eight, one and three seats respectively.
Talking to TOI, BJP district president in Mathura, Madhu Sharma, said, “we accept the public mandate. We will find out the reasons for not getting a majority and work on it.” She further said that due to Corona, many of their workers and leaders could not campaign in the elections effectively.
In Mainpuri too, BJP failed to take advantage of roping in Sandhya Yadav, the niece of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Sandhya was defeated by SP-backed candidate Pramod Yadav. While SP won 12 seats, the BJP got eight seats. The Congress won one seat and nine went to independent candidates.
Samajwadi party district president Devendra Singh Yadav told TOI that BJP-backed candidates won eight seats because of their own party workers, who fought independently after not getting nomination seats .
“BJP has otherwise no existence in Mainpuri,” he claimed.
Though the panchayat polls in Uttar Pradesh are not contested on party symbols, parties field their candidates and election campaigns are conducted in a centralised manner.
In Aligarh, independents stole the show by winning 21 of the 47 seats. The BJP and the SP won nine and seven seats respectively. The RLD won four and five seats were secured by the BSP and one by Bheem Army.
Samajwadi party leader, and former MP from Aligarh, Bijendra Singh, said that BJP has won only nine out of 47 seats which clearly shows that the public don’t want to see them in power.
“Farm bills against the wishes of farmers and mismanagement in handling Corona pandemic are the reasons for their defeat and this trend will show in assembly polls too,” he said.
State BJP secretary Vijay Shivhare claimed that most of the independent candidates who won are from BJP, so the party had “gained significantly” in the semi-final of the assembly elections.
According to local leaders, it is not necessary that the zila panchayat chairperson would be from the same party who gained in the polls.
BJP leaders have already reached out to winning candidates as an attempt to capture zila panchayat chairperson posts.
In the last panchayat polls, the BSP had won 12 of the 38 seats before the formation of municipal corporation in Mathura, but the chairperson was elected from the BJP.
Political observers say that the BJP has the power to leverage support of independent candidates and will manage to get their people elected. However, they cannot ignore the results, particularly since the assembly elections are less than a year away.
“This should be a wake up call for Yogi ji”, he said pointing out that generally in such elections the ruling dispensation has a huge advantage but BJP failed to gain from it.

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