Political dynasties, veterans and young leaders, uncles, sons and fathers: everyone’s future is at stake in the upcoming five-state assembly elections, dates of which were announced by the Election Commission today. Here is a look at all the contenders fighting it out for power:
The Narendra Modi Factor
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP have a lot at stake in UP, and not merely because he represents the Varanasi seat in Lok Sabha. His party’s performance could depend on, among other factors, the tricky play out of the twin surgical strikes, one across the LoC and the other on black money. While the strike on terror camps across the border could yield ‘patriotic’ dividends, the demonetisation drive could be a boon or boomerang badly. Not just that, the outcome of UP 2017 could also indicate which way the wind is blowing for the Modi government
• Mulayam Singh Yadav: After the bitter feud that ripped Samajwadi Party and pitched father against son, the UP polls could prove to be Mulayam Singh’s toughest bout -- and final -- bout in the political arena. The veteran Netaji goes into battle not only for Uttar Pradesh, but to win back his Samajwadi Party.
• Akhilesh Yadav: Challengers within the Yadav clan ensured that Akhileshwas ousted from his own party, but the Yadav scion staged an asseritve comeback, ousting his father as the chief of Samajawadi Party. Akhilesh Yadav may have broken out of his father’s shadow, but he has inherited a divided party, with rivals BSP and BJP snapping at his heels.
• Shivpal Yadav: Mulayam’s brother and the party’s muscleman is blamed for the rift in the Yadav clan. Shivpal has now been sidelined, but feels he has not been given his due.
• Mayawati: The BSP supremo has been hit by high-profile desertions, allegations from party rebels that tickets were being sold and an Enforcement Directorate statement questioning Rs 104 crores deposited into the party’s account.Trying hard to keep allegations at bay and keeping her votebank together, Behenji is eyeing a return to power.
• Sheila Dikshit: The Congress’ chief ministerial face is virtually an outsider in UP. She had to abandon the inaugural campaign yatra in August midway due to ill-health. While Congress’ is eyeing an alliance with the Samajwadi Party, these elections could mark a turning point in the Delhi’s former chief minister.
• Sukhbir Badal: Badal is the de facto CM calling the shots on candidate lists and the Akali Dal’s larger campaign, as the party president. Arvind Kejriwal has announced that he will pit his crowd-puller comedian and MP Bhagwant Mann against Sukhbir and the clash will be one to watch out for.
• Capt Amarinder Singh: Amarinder has often said it on record that it is his last election and he wants a win after two back-to-back defeats under his command. But will the Congress name him as the CM candidate before elections is the key question.
• Arvind Kejriwal: AAP is the underdog in Punjab polls and can play spoiler for the SAD-BJP and the Congress or even go down as the winner. Kejriwal is holding rallies and releasing manifestos for each section of voters.
• Navjot Singh Sidhu: He is expected to be a wild card entry into the Congress close to the polls. His wife Dr Navjot Kaur has joined hands with the Congress, but Sidhu may play hardball a little longer.
• Sucha Singh Chottepur: The Aapna Punjab Party (APP) chief too is a man to watch out for. His anger is totally personal and directed towards Kejriwal for his unceremonious ouster as state chief. He may throw his weight behind “old friend” Amarinder or just play a spoiler for AAP.
• Harish Rawat: Survived a political coup engineered by rebel Congress MLAs, as well as a sting video purportedly showing him offering money to legislators to save his government. Amid the churn, the state saw President’s rule for a while.
• Vijay Bahuguna: The former Congress CM is now in the BJP. He would be smarting from losing the top seat to Rawat in early 2014.
• Manohar Parrikar: The BJP win in 2012 is credited more to Parrikar than the party. The defence minister and former chief minister of Goa will be a star campaigner and is expected to handhold the state BJP.
• Sudin Dhavalikar and Dipak Dhavalikar: Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar dropped the two MGP ministers from his cabinet on December 12. He justified this, saying it was done to prevent BJP cadre from getting demoralised by their outbursts in the poll-bound state. The ouster of the Dhavalikar brothers raises prospects of new equations in the state.
• Okram Ibobi Singh: Manipaur’s current Chief Minister, who has been holding on to the position since 2002 and is seeking to return to power yet another time.
• Irom Sharmila: The rights activist, who ended her 16-year hunger strike this year, has joined active politics by launching her own party. Sharmila will be taking Ibobi head on, contesting against him.