“I have done work and I am happy, ready to form the government once again,” said a visibly relaxed chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his star campaigner wife Dimple Yadav a day before the counting day.
Both looked completely unnerved by the exit polls that forecast absolute majority for the Bhartiya Janata Party. Instead they joked, sharing their experiences and expectations.
“Exit polls are not unanimous in their verdicts. I simply want to know how many booth level workers and villagers they interacted with before delivering their numbers. Our information is from every booth and tomorrow all will know who is the winner,” chief minister added.
He is armed with his own list and counts constituencies they were winning in worst possible scenarios. And while media is discussing the possibility of a coalition government, Akhilesh claims they are forming government on their own.
“The governor will invite the single largest party,” he said in case of a hung house.
Pointing out how exit polls went wrong for Bihar, Dimple said, “Our cadre is very excited as the SP is winning the elections.” And she lightly refers to the general discussion in the market as to why the BJP had not ordered sweets even after exit polls gave them absolute majority.
Akhilesh on the other hand says that while capturing the elections as a festival, he also met the cadre and travelled the state.
On his reported willingness to ally with BSP in case of a hung house, Akhilesh said, “I had only said I will be open to alliance with anyone to stall BJP from coming to power and in giving a secular and stable government to the state. I had not named the BSP. Nonetheless everything depends on the numbers.”
However political pundits see it as clever move and perhaps a carrot to willing crossovers from BSP.
Asked why SP was not preparing for the celebrations as the BSP camp was doing, the chief minister said, “Here in our camp everything is set. We just have to resume our development projects and remove two or three from positions.”
In between this informal chat, he and his wife are all ears for statements coming on channels including that of Mayawati.
“Let’s wait for the results now. The satta bazaar is today giving the alliance a majority,” he said, adding there was close fight on every seat.
On growing criticism from within the party over his decision to ally with the Congress, Akhilesh said, “It was the right decision. Two young leaders have come together to give a new direction to the country’s politics.”
“Our vision is different from that of our elders. I talk about aroma park while they will talk about love jihad.”
As for the BJP, Akhilesh said the national party had nothing in its kitty to showcase except for their plan to distribute gas cylinders. “The Prime Minister promised bullet train. Three years on, no sign of it. See how fast we will run it if voted back to power.”
“Some must have voted for development like metro, laptop, smartphone (all part of Akhilesh’s development initiatives) — where has that vote gone? It has come to us. If caste and religion are the only guiding forces, then I will also take some castes for tonga and rikshaw ride... where is the need for an expressway?” Akhilesh said.
A clutch of exit polls predicted the BJP would get the closest to the majority mark of 202 of 403 seats. But Akhilesh says money is at play here as there is so much of political dishonesty.
“Tell me if I want to grab limelight on TV, what more I have to do? Obviously, they are encouraging corruption... People are wise and hard work will not go unrewarded,” said Akhilesh, adding if the worst was to come, he was ready to accept.
After all, “victory has many fathers, defeat has none.”
For live coverage of the UP assembly election results, click here