UP assembly polls: Political parties hit the road with yatras
Three of Uttar Pradesh’s biggest parties have launched or are launching massive road shows across the state this week ahead of crucial assembly polls early next year.india Updated: Nov 03, 2016 11:34 IST
It is the season of yatras again.
Three of Uttar Pradesh’s biggest parties have launched or are launching massive road shows, or yatras, across the state this week, hoping the mass-connect campaigns will help them woo rural and backward community votes ahead of crucial assembly polls early next year.
First off the blocks is the Congress, which flagged off the second phase of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s Kisan Sandesh Yatra on Wednesday in a bid to consolidate apparent gains made in the farming community with the promise of a loan waiver.
A day later, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav hit the road in his 10-wheeler, souped-up Mercedes chariot for his ‘Vikas Yatra’ that will kick off the Samajwadi Party’s election campaign. The beleaguered party is hoping the much-delayed yatra will take public attention away from a bitter power tussle within the ruling family.
Not to be left behind, the BJP is planning four Parivartan Rath Yatras, the first of which will be launched on Saturday, aiming to focus on the rural and backward caste constituencies that make up more than 70% of the state’s electorate. The GPRS-enabled, chariots-shaped minibuses will be accompanied by dedicated social media teams.
The polls in India’s most populous state are being billed as a virtual semi-final for the general elections in 2019 and the four main parties – Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, BJP and Congress – are locked in a close fight to run the 403-member assembly.
Stakes are high for the Congress, which is vying to come back to power in the state after 27 years. The party has found itself repeatedly outmanoeuvred by caste and communal politics and is fighting a rebellion of sorts in its ranks.
But the party is hoping to piggyback on Gandhi’s yatra, which attracted large crowds after he went from door to door to get signatures on Mang Patras (proformas) for loan waivers.
The SP is hoping the Vikas Yatra turns out to be as successful as Akhilesh’s Kranti Rath Yatra in 2012, which is widely credited for bringing the party to power in the last elections and garnering the youth vote.
But the fight between Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal Yadav for control of the party is already throwing a shadow on the yatra.
The BJP – which is hoping to defeat its regional rivals and come back to power after almost two decades – is focusing on 300-odd rural or semi-rural constituencies. Its four convertible motorised chariots will move across largely rural terrain. All four yatras will conclude in Lucknow on December 24 with a rally likely to be addressed by PM Modi.