The intelligentsia here had started debating the crucial 2012 UP polls much before the ground-breaking assembly results of Bihar and Bengal elections had poured in.
They had one concern, one wish.
Concern: Political stability had returned to the state in 2007 after a painful phase of about two-decade of political instability. They did not want to see it in jeopardy.
Wish: The state should come out of the vortex of caste and communal politics to vote for development and change.
Today, as the country walks on the growth path amidst a spate of scams, the question that troubles the man on the street in UP is, “When would I get water, electricity and education without deserting my home.” People, especially from villages, are being driven out of Mumbai, Delhi and other metros anyways. Political parties are already in the arena, flexing their political muscles. They are promising the moon, but a widespread skepticism prevails in the public. Reasons: One, they have seen the rule and misrule of all. Second, none of the four major political parties namely the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Congress, have substantially grown in strength since the 2007 elections. Third, there is no new poll issue or face. Thus various pre-poll and post-poll combinations are being floated. AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh has fuelled the imagination by changing the Congress’s well-known track of ‘ekla chalo’ to partnership with ‘small parties’. Waiting in the wings are Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh and the fledgling Peace party of Dr Ayub Khan.
Some believe that the TINA (there is no alternative) factor would bring back Mayawati to power albeit on BJP crutches, while other see the Congress breaking the two-decade jinx under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. What about Mulayam Singh Yadav? Can he be the dark horse? Would Uma’s Bharti’s call for ‘Ramrajya’ and not Rama temple turn things around for the BJP?
Driven by the twin emotive issues of mandal and mandir, the state has experimented from country’s first ever six-month rotational governments to every possible political combination. Will it try yet another formula or formulation or firmly decide to vote for development? It would be too early to conclusively comment on the post 2012 scenario as UP is known for throwing in strange bedfellows.
But is UP actually ready to vote for development? An HT-GfKMode survey, conducted in May 2011 much before the state was rattled by a series of rape cases, reveals the political maturity of the voters. They are now looking at corruption, price rise and unemployment as three major poll issues. The survey confirms manda- mandir issue will be on the backburner at the hustings in early 2012. The sample size is small but it certainly throws an interesting insight into the voter’s mind.