The ABP News's latest opinion poll on Uttar Pradesh, the state which will go to the Assembly elections early next year, has hinted at the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) emerging as the single largest party with 185 seats (out of 403).
The survey suggests that the party will gain by more than 100 seats if the elections are held today while the current ruling party, Samajwadi Party (SP), will be reduced to only 80 seats from its 2012 tally of 228.
The BJP and its ally in the state, Apnal Dal, are likely to bag 120 seats, which is again 73 more than its 2012 tally of 47. The UP election, for which the BJP has already launched its campaign in a soft way with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi chipping in, is very crucial for the NDA to regain its magical touch which was lost last year, starting with the Delhi elections. After losing Bihar in October, the BJP cannot afford to lose another Hindi heartland state ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The fourth force in the state-the UPA----is however, predicted to win just 13 seats, which is 24 lesser than even its 2012 score of 37. The pesence of master poll strategist in Prashant Kishor is also not seeming to help the Congress and its ally in the state, the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Others may bag five seats.
Purvanchal: NDA predicted to win 64 seats, BSP 63
The race between the NDA and BSP is likely to be very close in the Purvanchal region with the former winning 64 seats against the latter's 63. But it is the BSP which is predicted to win more than the NDA in the Avadh Pradesh (31 to 19), Bundelkhand (11 to 5) and Paschim Pradesh (80 to 32) regions.
In terms of vote share, the BSP is likely to win 31 per cent (in 2012 it had 24.8 per cent) while the NDA 24 (it had 16.3 per cent vote share in 2012). The SP's vote share is predicted to go down to 23 from 30.1 per cent. The UPA's vote share is also likely to go down to 11 from almost 14 per cent.
Intense battle in Purvanchal:
The prediction of just one-seat difference between the NDA and BSP in the Purvanchal region of the state makes it interesting.
Purvanchal is an under-developed part in eastern UP which is known for its gang-wars, fertile rice-growing fields, high concentration of population and communal polarisation. Politically, it is a very significant region and that can be understood from the BSP's strong focus on this part. Mayawati's party is seen bringing together the Brahmins, non-Yadav OBCs, Dalits and Mahadalits here to put up a strong social alliance in the Assembly polls. The BSP was ahead in this region in the 2007 Assembly (30 seats) and 2009 Lok Sabha (five out of 12 seats) elections.
But the BJP, too, saw its vote-share jumping to almost 23 per cent in the Assembly segments of this region in the 2009 polls. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP made a massive gain in Purvanchal when its candidate Narendra Modi, who eventually became the prime minister, won a strategic battle from Varanasi. Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur is another leader who helps the BJP make its presence stronger in the Purvanchal region.