Ahead of the notification for civic polls, the Uttar Pradesh government has transferred 28 IPS officers including police chiefs of ten districts. In the late night reshuffle, DIG Kanpur Sonia Singh has been replaced by Akhilesh Kumar. Singh goes to Meerut police training school as DIG, a home department spokesman said today. Other districts affected by the transfers are Unnao, Allahabad, Sitapur, Farrukhabad, Kanpur Dehat, Amethi, Amroha, Ambedkarnagar and Kaushambi. The notification for the local body elections is likely to be issued in a day or two.
The upcoming polls will be a key test for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as they would indicate whether the priest-turned-politician has been able to ensure that the BJP continues to maintain its popularity level. Earlier this year, the party riding on the crest of a Hindutva wave had secured a three-fourths majority in the state Assemble paving way for the 45-year-old Adityanath to be chosen as the chief minister. The civic polls, to be held in November-December, is being seen as a major challenge for the Hindutva leader as the outcome would reveal the mood of the voters ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, say political observers.
The BJP’s victory in these polls would be seen as a stamp of approval for the Adityanath government. The urban polls were earlier scheduled during June-July, but were postponed as the electoral rolls and some other processes could not be completed within the stipulated time- frame. The Samajwadi Party and the Congress, which forged an alliance in run up to the 2017 UP state polls, have decided to contest these elections separately. The AAP too has decided to throw its hat in the ring, while the Bahujan Samaj Party will also fight the polls without an alliance. In the event of a split in non-BJP votes, the saffron party is likely to have an edge.
In 2012, the BJP had swept these polls, winning 10 of the 12 mayoral posts. Lucknow mayor Dinesh Sharma is now a deputy chief minister of UP. Around 30 million voters would be eligible to exercise their franchise in these polls to be held for over 650 posts, including 438 municipal boards, 202 town areas and 16 corporations, also comprising two newly constituted Ayodhya Nagar Nigam and Mathura-Vrindavan Nagar Nigam.