The Allahabad High Court’s decision to grant Other Backward Class (OBC) reservations in urban local body elections was halted by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. This comes after the Uttar Pradesh government, which is led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, filed a petition with the Supreme Court on 29 December. According to reports, the state government challenged the Allahabad High Court’s ruling by submitting a Special Leave Petition (SLP) to the highest court. Earlier on 27 December, the Allahabad High Court had ordered the state government to hold the polls for urban local bodies without making any provisions for the OBC reservation. Earlier, the highly anticipated Municipal elections in Uttar Pradesh were scheduled for December 2022, but the Uttar Pradesh High Court issued an order to ban the announcement of the dates for municipal elections in the state. Now, after the Allahabad High Court’s decision, it is expected that the state election commission will announce the date of the municipal elections soon. Uttar Pradesh is one such state where the civic elections hold much importance, due to its large geographical area along with the political significance of the state in the national politics. The civic elections of Uttar Pradesh will not only decide the fate of the candidates of all the 734 municipalities of the state, but the result of these elections will be a strong message from the common people of Uttar Pradesh to all the political forces in the state just a year ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The result of the civic elections will clearly show the mood of Uttar Pradesh and because of this all the major political parties in the state, the current ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, Samajwadi Party, Congress, and BSP, are gearing up for civic polls with full force. People of Uttar Pradesh will vote for the 734 municipalities of the state which includes 17 municipal corporations, 200 municipalities and 517 nagar panchayats, the current Yogi Adityanath led BJP government will also check its cadre strength in run up to the 2024 general elections. The popularity of Yogi Adityanath’s welfare schemes and riots free rule made it possible for the BJP to return with a thumping majority in the Vidhan Sabha elections held earlier this year in March. It is thus expected that BJP will repeat its brilliant performance of the state Assembly Elections in the civic polls too. Recently, the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Melinda Gates, stated that the efforts of Uttar Pradesh government are in the areas of health security, financial inclusion, nutrition, education, and women’s empowerment are inspiring and commendable and the state of Uttar Pradesh is role model not only for India, but also for the whole world. The statement from Melinda Gates speaks about the popularity of work done by Yogi Adityanath worldwide. The Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government recently presented the supplementary budget of whopping Rs 34,000 crore, allocating the money to different schemes and plans for the development of the state. According to a formal statement, the government has proposed spending Rs 296 crore to host the next Global Investors’ Summit in February and Rs 899 crore to fund the Smart City project. Additionally, it suggests spending Rs 100 crore for incubators and start-ups and Rs 200 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Gatishakti Yojana. Also, for the industrial development bodies to create private industrial parks and hubs, the budget proposed largest allocation of Rs 8,000 crore. The budget also included Rs 300 crore for the free distribution of tablets and smartphones to young people as well as Rs 2,000 crore for the extending and strengthening of highways. The supplementary budget by Yogi Adityanath’s government, is thus inclusive and an inspiring effort for the welfare of people from different class, caste and religion. People of Uttar Pradesh also reacted happily after the budget presentation over different social media platforms and welcomed the budget as a gift for the common people of Uttar Pradesh before the civic elections. BJP state president Bhupendra Singh recently cleared that BJP will fight the civic elections on the issue of development and welfare done by the state government in the past 5-and-a-half years and Yogi Adityanath once again will be seen as the central face of the party campaign in the civic elections. BJP under Yogi Adityanath’s leadership has established itself as a party of common people of Uttar Pradesh, beyond the contours of cast, creed and religion. It clearly reflects from BJP’s plan to give tickets to the candidates of Pasmanda (the ones left behind) Muslims in the upcoming civic elections along with giving the chance of fighting the municipal elections to the candidates of other minorities also. If we talk about the opposition in the state, Samajwadi Party is yet to come out from the “shock” of defeat in the recent assembly elections. Samajwadi Party following its long followed tradition of wooing the voters through managing the caste factor in different constituencies, is expected to repeat the same in the upcoming civic elections too. While the Congress lost its ground long ago in the state, political pundits are expecting yet another debacle from the leaderless grand old party in the state. BSP will also try to regain some hold through its traditional politics of minorities in the state. As all the political parties are gearing up for the civic elections in the state, independent candidates too in significant numbers are expected to contest the elections. Nonetheless, the civic elections in Uttar Pradesh will be one of the important electoral battles ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections where different political parties will reinvigorate their cadre strength and will try to assess the ground reality.
Upasna Singh is a lawyer and co-founder, Virina and Rath Foundation.