[dropcap]P[/dropcap]olitical parties in Uttar Pradesh started preparing themselves for the 2017 Assembly elections and began basic exercises for the polls. Uttar Pradesh will vote in seven phases, from February 11 to March 8 and Goa, Punjab on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur on March 4, 8.
Currently, the ruling Samajwadi Party(SP) has 229 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, while the opposition Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) has 79, while Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) has 41, and Congress has 29 seats. Apart from 403 seats, one seat for an Anglo-Indian is reserved. 16 crores voters are going to take part across five states this year.
In the alliance that Akhilesh Yadav plans, the Samajwadi Party is likely to contest about 300 out of 403 assembly seats in UP, while the Congress could contest about 75, and the RLD and other parties could contest 25-30. It follows the Bihar experiment, where Nitish Kumar was re-elected after strategically partnering with old rival Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and the Congress as Mahagathbandhan.
Akhilesh Yadav, having set aside his family drama, is moving on to the next order of business ahead of the election: stapling together the alliance that he believes will help him counter rivals Mayawati and the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. A deal with the Congress will be announced soon, however, the Congress pre-empted him, declaring the collaboration at a press conference in Delhi. Akhilesh wants another term as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, but has been preoccupied with a confrontation with his father, Mulayam Singh, whose power play included declaring candidates for the election without inputs from his son.
On Monday, the issue of who is the boss was decided by the Election Commission which ruled that Akhilesh Yadav has the backing of most of the Samajwadi Party and is therefore in control of the legit version of the outfit and not a spin-off as his father had alleged. The victory entitles the young politician to use the party symbol cycle, easily recognized by voters. Determined to maintain his line of maximum respect for his father, Akhilesh went to visit him as soon as the case was decided in his favour and then tweeted a photo of them together, which was a file photo.
Uttar Pradesh is governed by the Samajwadi Party, whose founding family is tangled in a massive and high-volume battle for power. Headman Mulayam Singh wants to remain in control of the party with his close aide and younger brother Shivpal Yadav. They had a face off against Mulayam Singh’s son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his mentor, Ram Gopal Yadav, who is Mulayam’s cousin. The competing factions – Akhilesh Yadav’s is by far much larger – have indicated that in UP, the last time the SP got only 29 per cent and managed a majority on its own. In a three or four cornered contest, even small victory margins may lead to substantial majority and a party which can get more than 25 per cent will have serious chances of winning and BJP got 43 per cent votes in UP in 2014 General Elections. BJP plans to woo people from all backgrounds, castes, and religions; district heads from backward sections were appointed to lure the vote bank. Shiv Pratap Shukla replaced Abbas Naqvi to please forward sections and strike a balance between forward and backward castes.
Mayawati is calling on minority groups like the Dalits who comprise 22 per cent of the population and Muslims to reject the BJP and its commitment to Hindu nationalism. Some lower caste voters deserted her BSP in 2014, allowing the BJP to win 71 out of 80 seats. But a series of attacks on Dalits this year including by self-styled Hindu cow vigilantes, has re-energised her. So, overall the fight would be between SP and BSP, BJP is actually irrelevant in the state. If the recent surveys are to be believed, BSP has an edge but if the situation is analysed after drama its Akhilesh who made it to people’s mind. Interestingly this time, Mayawati is emerging as the main opponent to PM Modi and Akhilesh in Uttar Pradesh. BJP chief Amit Shah has made more than 150 visits to the state in the last two years to expand the BJP’s appeal from its traditional base of prosperous and upper caste voters to less privileged voters. Anyway, these days illiterate has mind but literate have only mouth. Let’s see, what happens in UP.
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