UP 'Mayabazaar' to shape national politics

UP 'Mayabazaar' to shape national politics

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UP 'Mayabazaar' to shape national politics

As Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi sweats hard with eyes firmly fixed on the throne at Delhi and Mulayam Singh Yadav fights for ‘political survival’, the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections may not only be a prelude to the big fight in 2014 but also decide the fate of the ‘longest prime minister-in waiting’ L K Advani and whether Mayawati could play the ‘Kingmaker.

Although the dates for the forthcoming polls in UP have not yet been announced by the Election Commission, the major players have already taken a plunge into the electoral battle and allegations and counter-allegations among the political parties have started.

While the Congress, buoyed by its performance in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls in which the party had surprised the political pundits by winning 21 seats and finished second after the Samajwadi Party (SP), is led by its star campaigner and perhaps the ‘only hope’ Rahul Gandhi, the SP has also tried to put its best foot forward by projecting Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav as its future leader in a bid to counter the ‘Rahul effect’.

A confident looking BSP supremo Mayawati, on the other hand, is busy weaving her ‘social engineering formula’, which was largely responsible for catapulting her party to power on its own in the 2007 assembly polls, though she may find the going a little tough this time.

The BJP, which hopes to ‘dethrone’ the Congress in 2014 general elections, is banking on the `anti incumbency’ factor and the firebrand Uma Bharti to storm back to power in the state.

Although the Congress, which had won 22 assembly seats in the last assembly polls, will be starting virtually from the scratch, UP elections are ‘crucial’ for the party as the results would not only reflect the effect of the ‘Anna factor’ as well as the ‘rising prices’ but also make or mar Rahul Gandhi’s prime ministerial ambition.

Cong raised to main oppn
“We are waging a very tough battle…on stake is Rahul Gandhi’s political future and whether he will become prime minister…the polls will test his political acumen as well as his capability to re-establish the Congress in the state where it has been out of power for over two decades’’, said a senior UP Congress leader.

The leader pointed to Rahul’s frequent visits to the state and said that the Congress MP fully ‘understands’ the importance of the UP elections. “Rahul has been working very hard….he has single handedly brought the party in the fight for power…for the first time in two decades, the Congress is contesting the polls to form the government although not on its own’’, the leader quipped.

Survival for Mulayam
To buttress his contention, he cited Mayawati’s outbursts against Rahul. “Mayawati’s attack on Rahul has pushed SP and BJP to fringe players and catapulted Congress to the place of the main opposition party,” he said.

According to the political observers, the results would indicate if Rahul’s frequent visits to the homes of Dalits and breaking bread with them pay rich dividends to his party at the hustings.

The congress has already forged an alliance with the `jat’ leader and RLD chief Ajit Singh and announced that it would provide reservation to the backward among the muslims, apparently to corner their votes.

For the SP, the polls may well decide the very survival of the party, which had lost a sizeable section of muslim votes to the Congress in 2009 Lok Sabha polls. “If the Yadav-Muslim combination does not click this time, it will be curtains for Mulayam,’, said an SP leader.

The elections would also be a big test for Mayawati. “It remains to be seen if the BSP’s social engineering formula which worked very well in 2007, works again,” a BSP leader said adding, however, that the going this time is ‘very tough’.

“The BSP regime has been hit by a number of scams and as many as six ministers had to be dropped after being indicted by the Lokayukta on charges of corruption, land grabbing and also involvement in criminal activities,” he said.

Several BSP legislators were arrested on charges of murder and rape, while many ministers were facing Lokayukta probe. “Shooting crime graph has also hit the current regime…Mayawati had come to power on the promise that she would provide a ‘bhay mukta samaj’ (a society free from fear)…that has not happened’’, the leader admitted.

Mayawati, however, is confident of coming back to power. She has already addressed a massive rally in the state capital and plans to address many more in the days to come. “Her dalit vote bank is more or less intact,’’ the party leaders said.

For the BJP, the elections could very well decide whether its hope to ‘oust’ the Congress from power at the centre in 2014 Lok Sabha polls will fructify or not. “A win or at least a good performance in UP could bolster the party’s prospects in the next general elections,’’ a BJP leader here said.

The BJP, which has 50 legislators in the 403-member house, is banking heavily on firebrand ‘sanyasin’ Uma Bharti, a leader, who is not even from the state.

Known for her hard line ‘hindutva’ ideology, Uma Bharti has to fight a two pronged battle - one at the electoral front and the other and more crucial at the party front.

“Uma is not getting the support of all sections of the party…a large section is against her being foisted on the party by the high command,’’ another BJP leader said.

Another significant factor is the absence of young and firebrand MP from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi. “Varun, it appears, has been sidelined…in any case he too was not getting support from the state leadership, which is divided into several camps,’’ the leader said.

A noticeable development on the electoral scene in the state is the emergence of the smaller parties. According to the observers, these parties could also humble the major players in some pockets.

In any case, it is always dangerous to make any prediction about the outcome of the poll in a state like UP, where caste factor is still very dominant.

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