The race for the next assembly in Uttar Pradesh may be largely
four cornered. But, it is increasingly evident that the electoral
battle slated for February in the country's most populous state is
bound to largely remain Mayawati vs the rest.
Be it Samajwadi Party (SP), the leading opposition group, the
Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), each one is ready to
dig into the votes of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which
not only managed to romp home in 2007 with 206 seats in the 403
member house, but also raised its strength over the past four
years to 218.
The common ground on which Mayawati and her regime are being
targetted is "large scale corruption" and "despotism". What has
also gone against her is her perceived inaccessibility, where none
other than those invited by her can have an audience with her.
While SP's Mulayam Singh Yadav is busy accusing Mayawati of
running the state like her "private fiefdon", Congress general
secretary Rahul Gandhi has been busy blasting the ruling party for
"large-scale pilferage of funds" released by the centre towards
various development, social security or poverty alleviation
programmes. The BJP has been trying to dismiss the ruling party as
among the "most corrupt regimes in the country".
Interestingly, while taking on each one of these political outfits
by the horns, Mayawati is trying to fight back with all her might.
Sure enough, the task is neither easy nor simple. In the absence
of sufficient genuine achievements she could boast of, Mayawati's
strategy is focussed on training her guns at each of the political
Labelling SP as a party of "goondas" and "criminals" and reminding
people of the "rise in crime during the Mulayam regime", Mayawati
is hoping to sail through by reviving her image of a ruthlessly
tough task-master who is ready to bring every criminal to book.
"You can see how unlike any other party, the BSP has never
protected any one - no matter however high or mighty - in case he
is found indulging in any kind of criminal activities", she claims
while citing the example of her party MPs or MLAs who were put
behind bars when their unlawful activities came to the fore. "I
have not even spared my ministers, whom I have sacked once they
were indicted by the state Lokayukta for being involved in
corruption", she emphasises.
At least four of her important ministers and nearly half a dozen
of her party MPs or legislators got axed over the past few months,
though her detractors are of the view that such action was
initiated essentially to impress upon the electorate that she
continues to remain a "no-nonsense" chief minister, even as
accusations of her personal indulgence in corruption are gaining
Notwithstanding her tall claims, there is little that she can do
about the anti-incumbency factor that is hanging over her like the
sword of damocles. And none of the key political parties are ready
to let go the opportunity to convert her losses into their gains.
Thus if Mulayam Singh is working up to snatch the Muslim vote from
her existing kitty to raise its 2007 tally of 97, BJP, with its
2007 strength of 51, is moving heaven and earth to woo Brahmins
back to its fold after a chunk of them had gone all out to support
her in 2007 to forge a unique Dalit-Brahmin axis that propelled
Mayawati to power.
Numerically speaking, it is the Congress that is faced with the
toughest call - to take its tally ahead from its last assembly
score of 22. Therefore, it is leaving no stone unturned to win
back Muslims as well as a section of Dalits and the most backward
castes (MBCs). And that is where Rahul Gandhi is doing his bit to
attack both BSP and SP.
Under the prevailing scenario, political pundits as well as
surveys have already predicted a hung assembly in 2012. But with
politicians known to make strange bedfellows, it would be really
too early predict the post-poll picture. For the time being, it is
going to be Mayawati versus the others - SP, Congress and BJP.
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