The first phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls for 55 seats scheduled on February 8 will decide the course of new state assembly. Ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had won 30 seats out of these 55 constituencies in 2007 polls. The BSP’s grand performance in this region helped the party to unseat the Samajwadi Party government. This time the party seems to be faced with tough challenges in repeating its elephantine success of 2007. Despite sacking over two and a half dozen tainted ministers and denying tickets to over one hundred sitting MLAs, the BSP leadership still finds it difficult in turning the poll atmosphere in its favour due to possible anti-incumbency against it. The victory of BSP will largely depend on candidates’ image and their political clout in the constituencies.

It will be herculean task for the BSP poll managers to retain the 30 seat which were bagged by the party in 2007. Other stake holders like main Opposition SP had won 18 seats whereas Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress had grabbed four and three seats respectively out of the 55 seats going to polls in the first phase. By ensuring victory on five seats out of 8 in Barabanki district, the BSP had taken a decisive lead in this area. Rest of three seats went to the SP. Two-time BSP MLA and Textile and Silk Minister Sangram Singh is contesting from Barabanki seat. Sangram is facing tough fight from SP candidate Dharmraj Singh alias Suresh Yadav who was one time a close aide of the BSP candidate. The party is in straight fight with the SP nominees on Ramnagar and Dariabad seats.

Haidergarh seat is witnessing two cornered contest between the BJP and the SP.  Former BJP president Rajnath Singh had won from here in 2002 whereas the Congress and the SP are in straight fight on Jaitpur seat. In Sitapur, the SP is offering tough fight to the BSP candidate. In a neck to neck contest in 2007, the SP and the BSP won five and four seats respectively in this district. This time both the parties reposed faith in their old horses for all the seven seats. The BSP MLA Jasmir Ansari is contesting from Laharpur. His wife Kaiser Jahan is BSP MP from Sitapur. But the Congress has disturbed the equation of the BSP by fielding former SP leader Anil Verma from Laharpur. BSP candidate Ramhet Bharti is contesting from Hargaon seat. The SP candidates are in better position than that of the BSP in Maholi, Mahmudabad and Misrikh.

The BSP managed to win only two seats out of 6 in Gonda district in 2007. After the delimitation drive, one more constituency has been added to the district with a total of seven seats. Again this time, it is believed that the party is out of race on at least five seats excepting Mehnaun and Karnalganj constituencies. Katrabazar, Gonda, Gaurabazar, Manakapur and Tarabganj seats are witnessing straight fight between the SP and the BJP.

There is no good news for the BSP in Bahraich from where party supremo has finally denied ticket to Mahfooz who was earlier declared as party candidate a year before. At a later stage, the party announced the candidature of Abdul for the seat. But finally an outsider Musarraf Khan is contesting on the BSP ticket from this constituency. Peace Party candidate Haji Zuber and Ulema Council nominee Maulana Vali Ullah are major concerns for SP heavyweight Waqar Ahmed Shah. The BSP is losing its ground on Prayagpur, Kaiserganj, Mahsi, Balha and Matera seats. The BSP supremo Mayawati’s decision to deny tickets to a large number of MLAs and ministers hailing from these areas has triggered displeasure among the party workers. She did not hesitate to expel several tainted MLAs from the party to refurbish party image. Ambedkar Village Tamachpur (Chamargadhaiya) resident Kedarnath Bhaskar said, “We will vote for BSP as Mayawati government provided basic facilities in our village.” 
“She herself visited Tamachpur. Her visit changed our lives, added Bhaskar.