A day after the Congress asked Rahul Gandhi to lead the election campaign, its UPA ally Samajwadi Party on Friday declared names of 55 candidates for Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, adding to wide-spread speculation that the polling may take place much before 2014.
Officially, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies are desisting from making a statement on early elections as it would go against the Central government, but some of them, including Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Yadav, have been asking their party leaders and cadres to be prepared to face early elections.
In October, Sharad Pawar, while addressing his state level party convention, asked his colleagues to be prepared for a mid-term elections in view of “unstable situation” at the Centre. He had said that there was always a chance of “political accidents”.
The release of the first list of 55 candidates so early by the SP, which is extending outside support to the UPA government, has fuelled speculations that the party's support may not last till the current Lok Sabha's term ends.
“Mulayam has been telling the party workers to be ready for early poll and the list certainly signals that he may actually be preparing himself for it,” quipped a senior SP leader in Lucknow soon after the list was released.
The CPM, too, on Friday said the general election may be advanced as the ruling party wants to "cut its losses" in major states where it is in power.
"Their (Congress) house in not in order. All the states where they have more MPs are in a state of crisis, like in Andhra Pradesh. They may want to go in for early poll to cut their losses," senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters.
The BJP also said it is ready for early elections.
The Congress, however, dismissed all the speculations. Information and Broadcasting Minster Manish Tewari said speculations about mid-term polls had always been there ever since UPA II came to power. “The government has been elected for five years,” he said.
Agreeing with his colleague Tiwari, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi, however, maintained that as a political party, it is always ready for elections.
An SP leader said that Mulayam now “earnestly” wants early elections. “He wants to make hay while the sun shines. Mulayam feels that if the elections are to be held in the next few months, his party will stand to gain.''
Mulayam, however, knows only too well that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati may not like early poll. “Mayawati will prefer to face the electorate in 2014 as she feels that by that time, Akhilesh Yadav's charm will have vanished'', said a BSP leader.
While Mulayam's withdrawal of support from the Centre may not cause any immediate problem for the UPA, it will certainly make it more vulnerable. It remains to be seen if Mulayam was merely resorting to “pressure tactic” by early release of the list of his nominees.