Yogi Adityanath's Big Test As UP Civic Polls Begin: 10 Points

Uttar Pradesh Civic Election 2017: The BJP has always won civic polls in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, and has won the Lucknow mayor's seat four straight times. The challenge for Yogi Adityanath is to match the assembly poll performance.

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Yogi Adityanath's Big Test As UP Civic Polls Begin: 10 Points

Uttar Pradesh Civic Election 2017: Yogi Adityanath voted in his home base of Gorakhpur.

Lucknow:  Parts of Uttar Pradesh voted on Wednesday in the first round of local body elections seen as a big test for the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government that took power in March after a landslide victory in assembly polls. Over 52 per cent voting was recorded in the first phase of voting. Rahul Gandhi's parlimentray constituentcy of Amethi saw the highest voter turnout at 68.44 per cent and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home base of Gorakhpur registering the lowest.A win in these polls will be counted as an endorsement not just for the eight-month-old government but also the ruling party ahead of the Gujarat election next month and the 2019 national election. After three rounds of polling, the results will be declared on December 1.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to the Uttar Pradesh civic polls:
  1. Voting took place in 24 districts of the state, including in Ayodhya, which has recently seen political activity over possible solutions to the decades-old Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri mosque dispute currently being heard by courts. 
  2. Coming just before the Gujarat election next month, these polls are important for the ruling BJP and Yogi Adityanath, who has campaigned across the state with over 30 public meetings.
  3. "I am happy that the BJP is getting a lot of support, the party will win with a huge margin," the Chief Minister told reporters after casting his vote in Gorakhpur  where he is still head priest of the Gorakhnath temple.Addressing a public meeting in Varanasi where voting will take place in the next round, he appealed to voters to ensure that the BJP wins the elections.
  4. In a sign that it is not taking the polls lightly, the BJP has for the first time released a manifesto with promises like free WiFi at prominent public places, "pink toilets" for women and free water connections to all homes.
  5. The BJP has a strong grip on the urban local bodies in UP, especially the mayor seats of the municipal corporations. The party has always won these polls in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency, and has won the Lucknow mayor's seat four straight times. The challenge for Yogi Adityanath is to match the assembly poll performance.
  6. The campaign hasn't been without controversy. A week ago, a BJP councilor was caught on camera warning Muslims to vote for his wife in civic polls or "face kasht(difficulties) like never before".
  7. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who lost power to the BJP, has preferred not to camapign extensively, holding select rallies and a press conference or two. 
  8. Another former Chief Minister, Mayawati, has not campaign at all even though her BSP is contesting the polls after over two decades, signaling a change in strategy from the past when the party avoided contesting local elections. The BSP was decimated in the 2014 national election and was a distant third in the assembly polls.
  9. Voting took place for some 230 local bodies in the first round - five municipal corporations, 71 municipal boards and 154 Panchayats.
  10. The rest of the state will vote on November 26 and 29, and the votes will be counted on December 1. Around 30 million voters are eligible to vote for more than 650 posts.

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