Tucked away from high octane narrative and diatribe over Taj Mahal
and Ayodhya, the biggest challenge yet facing Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
is in the form of urban local bodies polls in Nov-Dec 2017.
Over the past few months, Adityanath and four of his council of ministers were successfully elected in the UP Vidhan Parishad. Besides that the Yogi dispensation had also ensured that the party’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind secured more votes than the number of BJP
lawmakers in the state assembly.
However, the upcoming urban local bodies polls would be the first direct polls with Adityanath at the helm. The BJP's victory in these polls would not only be an approval of his astute leadership in the state, but would be seen as a kind of referendum by the urban voters on the Yogi government after it came to power on March 19. The results would also present an opportunity to the party for course correction in their policies and governance.
Today, Adityanath is in Ayodhya
for a string of cultural and religious events, including a mega light and laser show on the eve of Diwali to commemorate the homecoming of Lord Ram to the temple town after defeating demon king Ravan. A world record is also being attempted by illuminating over 1,70,000 diyas (earthen pots) simultaneously on the banks of Saryu.
The state urban polls were earlier scheduled to be held during June-July 2017, but were postponed since the electoral rolls and the process of reservation of seats could not be completed within the stipulated time-frame.
Even Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is gearing up to contest these polls. Interestingly, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress, which had forged a pre-poll alliance in run up to the 2017 UP poll have announced to fight these elections on their own. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also fighting the polls without any alliance.
Although, the BJP
has traditionally been strong in the urban constituencies, the acid test for Adityanath would be to not only keep up the victory barometer, but even better the previous poll performance, since BJP
had over the past 15 years been in the Opposition, while today it is the ruling party.
Meanwhile, about 30 million voters would be eligible to exercise their franchise in these polls. These polls would be held for over 650 posts, including 438 municipal boards, 202 town areas and 16 corporations, also comprising two newly constituted Ayodhya
Nagar Nigam and Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam.
In 2012, the BJP
had swept these polls, winning 10 of existing 12 mayoral posts. Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma is now a deputy chief minister of UP. In 2007 urban local bodies polls, the party had won only eight seats.