Controversy, apprehension, note-ban blues and delay have hit four major political parties’ preparation at a time when the 2017 UP assembly elections are just a few months away.
In fact, the 2012 UP Vidhan Sabha elections were announced on December 24, 2011. The seven-phase polling began on February 8 and the results were out on March 6. The new chief minister was sworn in on March 15.
If the Election Commission decides to stick to the same schedule, it is a matter of time now when the polling dates will be declared.
Hindustan Times presents a status report on candidate selection, which has obviously been hit by demonetization, by four major political parties barely one and a half months before the polling date (in case Election Commission decides 2012 dates)
Controversy dogs SP
Take the case of the Samajwadi Party (SP), it has declared candidates for 175 of the total 403 Uttar Pradesh Assembly seats and is, in fact, facing some embarrassing moments due to a few of its early selections—the recent being its candidate from Kanpur Cantt Atiq Ahmed.
Atiq along with his henchmen was caught on camera creating ruckus in an agriculture university in Allahabad recently, giving opposition parties one more opportunity to pin point SP’s ties with criminal elements, something which has created a wedge between chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle and SP state president Shivpal Singh Yadav in the past also.
Despite opposition from Akhilesh, Shivpal and Mulayam merged criminal-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal (QED) into the SP. Then the party gave tickets to murder accused Aman Mani Tripathi, who at present is in CBI custody.
The party began distributing tickets in March this year for 144 of total 177 seats where it had lost elections. Subsequently, the party announced more candidates and some alterations on the lost constituencies. The party now has shifted focus on the seats that it had won in 2012.
In the seat distribution exercise, it is the state president Shivpal Yadav who is calling the shots under the party chief Mulayam’s patronage.
BJP:In demand despite note-ban blues
As for the BJP, party insiders claimed that it is facing a ‘problem of plenty’ owing to growing demand for ‘ kamal ka phool’, despite demonetization whose impact the party’s fortunes in UP is anybody’s guess as of now. The BJP is deploying cadres to explain to the poor and the backwards, especially among the OBC and Dalits which make up for more than 70% of the state’s electorate, how they would gain from the currency ban in the longer run.
The party’s first list is expected little after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s January 2 rally in Lucknow. BJP chief Amit Shah said in Lucknow recently that party will field maximum young candidates in 2017 UP polls-- reason why many are pushing the case of their wards.
“The average age of candidates could be from 35 years to 50 years this time,” a source said.
BSP candidates on edge
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which took the lead over its rivals in finalising candidates for all 403 assembly seats in UP, has already replaced 115 aspirants.
The remaining candidates are on the tenterhooks as party chief Mayawati is likely to replace those with a poor chance of winning. The final list was likely to be released after the Election Commission announces the UP assembly elections, a senior party leader, who did not wish to be named, said. The candidates will be on test till then, he said.
The BSP won the 2007 assembly election on the social engineering formula. But successive defeats in the 2012 assembly election and the 2014 Lok Sabha polls forced Mayawati to amend her strategy.
A senior BSP leader said, “To regain lost ground, we are planning to give tickets to 125 Muslims, 100 Dalit and 80 EBC candidates. The remaining 100 tickets might be distributed among the upper caste and backwards caste candidates.”
Cong, running late, yet no hurry
The Congress is banking on six to seven channels to get feedback before making any announcement about its candidates.
A process to select candidates had begun early this year in the party with senior party leaders announcing candidates will be announced six months before polls. But the party leadership continues to seek panels of possible candidates one after the other even now.
“We hope an announcement of candidates will be made by the end of December 2016,” said a party leader.