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Home » India » Sacrilege In Punjab, Hindutva In UP, Covid A Common Concern: Key Poll Issues In 5 States

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Sacrilege In Punjab, Hindutva In UP, Covid A Common Concern: Key Poll Issues In 5 States

The most recent issue that grabbed eyeballs was the alleged security lapse in Punjab, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to hold a rally in Ferozepur.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi at a rally, in Ludhiana, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, election campaigns have been limited to the virtual space and all physical rallies and roadshows have been banned till January 15. However, the political parties have already organised a few rallies with the attendance of thousands as people gather to hear their leaders’ promises before they go vote.

The most recent issue that grabbed eyeballs was the alleged security lapse in Punjab, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to hold a rally in Ferozepur. The PM’s ‘security breach‘, where he had to cancel his rally amid road blockade by protesting farmers, will be a hot topic in Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand polls. Further, the handling of the COVID-19 situation by the state governments will be a common issue in all the states. Here’s a list of key poll issues in the different states that are likely to guide the voter sentiments:

Uttar Pradesh

The key issues in Uttar Pradesh include unemployment, law and order, and development. As the state reels under the effects of COVID-19, unemployment has become a major issue of concern in the state. The state will also witnesses an ideological fight between BJP, whose focus remains ‘Hindutva’, and the others who oppose the saffron party’s stance. The disputes over temple land in Kashi, Mathura and Ayodhya will also play a major role in influencing the polls.

Caste has always played a major role in the state and all the parties will be vying for the votes of OBC voters in Uttar Pradesh. Agricultural issues will also be at the forefront in the state, which recently saw several farmers participate in the year-long protests against the Centre’s three farm laws.

ALSO READ: UP Assembly Elections 2022 In Seven Phases From Feb 10 To Mar 7, Results On Mar 10

Punjab

As the polls draw nearer, Punjab witnesses intensified campaigns by Congress and AAP, which seems to have gained some footing in the state. And as infighting rocks Punjab Congress, with Captain Amarinder Singh gone and state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s constant bickering with his own colleagues, AAP will be looking to capitalise on the tensions further.

Punjab recently witnessed two instances of mob lynching in Amritsar and Kapurthala over alleged ‘sacrilege’ bids, which have been a major issue in the state for long. In the previous election, two incidents of sacrilege had become the main poll issue. The incidents were from Faridkot district and happened in 2015 — first in June when the holy book Sri Guru Granth Sahib was taken from a gurdwara, and the second in October, when in a series of incidents pages of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were found lying on the ground. Congress had built its election campaign for the 2017 polls around the issue.

The 2022 assembly polls will also be guided by the farmers’ sentiments, which came to be at the centre of Punjab politics over the past one year. Punjab has also spent years tackling the drug menace, a topic that remains a crucial part of all election campaigns.

The Congress government has also attempted to woo the Dalit voters in these elections as the party placed Charanjit Singh Channi at the top post.

Uttarakhand

The main issues that will affect the outcome of the polls in Uttarakhand include unemployment and development, specially in the post-COVID time. The other major concern for Uttarakhand would be the stability of the state government as the incumbent BJP government has witnessed a change of guard more than once. Uttarakhand in the last five years saw three chief ministers from Trivendra Singh Rawat to Tirath Singh Rawat to Pushkar Singh Dhami.

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A decade old promise in the state remains the creation of new districts. Several political parties can be heard issuing statements on the long unfulfilled poll promise. The demand had first gained attention when in 2011 the then chief minister and BJP leader Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had announced the creation of four new districts–Kotdwar, Yamunotri, Ranikhet and Didihat–Nishank. However, the promise never took form.

Goa

One of the main demands in Goa has been of restarting mining, which came to a halt in March 2018 following the decision of the Supreme Court to quash the second renewal of 88 mining leases. Goa, whose economy is majorly driven by tourism, also reels under the terrible effects of COVID-19 and the issue is going to play a major role in the upcoming elections. The infrastructure in Goa is one of the issues of concern. The anti-Christian missionaries or the anti-conversion stance of the BJP will also affect the polls in the state.

Manipur

After the recent civilian killings in Nagaland, there has been clamour in the northeastern states to revoke the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or the AFSPA. However, some sections of the society have also batted in favour of AFSPA in Manipur and the issue remains contentious. The other issues that will influence poll results include lack of employment opportunities, lack of infrastructure in the state. The anti-Christian missionaries stance of the BJP-led government at Centre is also one of the key points in focus for the upcoming assembly elections in the North-East Indian state.

Poll Dates Announced

The Election Commission on Saturday announced the dates to the Assembly polls in the five states of Utttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur. Uttar Pradesh will go to poll in seven phases from February 10 to March 7, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will vote on February 14 and Manipur to vote in two phases on February 27 and March 3. The counting of votes will take place on March 10, the Election Commission said on Saturday. With the announcement of dates, the Model Code of Conduct came into force in all these five states.

As COVID-19 cases spiral in the country, the Election Commission on Saturday banned election rallies, roadshows and corner meetings till January 15 in the five poll-bound states. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra said the poll authority will review the COVID-19 situation on January 15 and take a further call on allowing public rallies.

“The Commission will not hesitate to bar parties from further rallies if COVID protocol is not followed,” Chandra said. The Commission also set out stringent COVID guidelines, restricting the number of persons allowed for door-to-door campaigns to five.

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