Crime, money power shadow Uttar Pradesh polls
percent of the candidates in the second phase of Uttar Pradesh
elections are embroiled in criminal cases, two groups said Friday.
The Association for Democratic Research (ADR) and National
Election Watch (NEW) said the number of
Considering what is at stake, top leaders of all political parties
have descended in Uttar Pradesh's poll arena to select its 16th
However, unlike in the past, when issues used to be clearly
visible and so was the inclination of the voter, thereby making
poll speculation easier, the 2012 state assembly election appears
to be most unpredictable.
Besides the four key political players - the ruling Bahujan Samaj
Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Congress and Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) - there has been the emergence of the Peace Party,
that is seen, more than anything else, as a spoilsport.
Congress took the first plunge into the electoral campaign in the
state, where it had been out of power for more than two decades.
With an uphill task of reviving it in the state, star campaigner
Rahul Gandhi had started the ground work way ahead of others.
Be it visiting Dalit homes in the poverty-ridden backwaters of the
state or taking a plunge into the cauldron of farmers' issues in
Noida's Bhatta Parsaul, or boarding a second class compartment of
a Gorakhpur train, every move of Rahul was clearly aimed at wooing
the electorate. And the moves paid dividends to the extent of
establishing the Gandhi scion's goodwill with a large chunk of the
masses across the state.
After all Rahul had finally stepped out of the confines of Amethi
and Rae Bareli - his and his mother Sonia's parliamentary
constituencies. By the time elections were announced, Rahul had
already done much of the spade work. His mother has recently
joined him to cover several areas, while sister Priyanka too has
pitched in to take care of the assembly segments under Amethi and
Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituencies. The only other prominent face
to join the Congress campaign here was Delhi Chief Minister Shiela
All other parties got down to business only after the elections
looked in sight. And SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's son Akhilesh
Yadav who had also travelled the length and breadth of the state
well before the announcement of the elections, was the first to
take to the road, moving from one constituency to another. His
initial objective to drive home the message that he was out to
re-invent the party was well received and the 39-year-old was also
making waves in many places.
Meanwhile, his father was hopping all over the state on a chopper
with colleague Azam Khan, trying to woo Muslims. The entire focus
was on reviving the party's support base of Muslims, who had in a
big measure drifted away from the SP because of Mulayam's
shortlived handshake with ousted BJP bigwig Kalyan Singh, better
known as the mastermind of the Ayodhya mosque demolition.
Unlike the Congress and Samajwadi Party, the BJP has a whole army
of leaders swarming Uttar Pradesh. While the campaign was
initially entrusted entirely to Uma Bharti, who was not very long
ago imported from Madhya Pradesh to turn around the party's
fortunes here, several other top line BJP leaders have started
spreading their tentacles across the state. These include Nitin
Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely. But the
BJP has somehow remained shy of bringing in Gujarat Chief Minister
Narendra Modi for the campaign.
The ruling BSP, however, has a lone campaigner in Chief Minister
Mayawati, who chose to step in far behind her rivals. But her
supporters have an explanation for her late start.
"Behenji has her core constituency of Dalits who form 20 percent
of the electorate; none of the other political parties have a
solid base of more than five percent, therefore in real terms, she
is well ahead of others," is what one of her close confidantes
And doubtlessly, her support was more than amply demonstrated in
the mammoth turnout at the half a dozen election rallies she
addressed over the first three days of her campaign.
With the first phase of the seven-phase balloting just days away
Feb 8, no one is able to say with some confidence which way the
political wind is going to blow in the country's most politically
(Sharat Pradhan can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)