Battlefield Uttar Pradesh is simmering with intense political activity ahead of the seven-phase polls. And, battle-ready are three youth icons who have embarked on their turbulent political journeys here to resurrect their parties, and, in turn, determine their own political fortunes.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, 41, Samajwadi Party (SP) state president Akhilesh Yadav, 38, and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) national general secretary Jayant Chaudhary, 33, have one elephantine enemy — Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.
Political lineage apart, similarities between them extend to their education abroad, somewhat reluctant entry into politics and new fangled ideas.
Yadav and Chaudhary have another thing in common. Both have been blamed for the ouster of their fathers’ trusted lieutenants. While Chaudhary senior Ajit Singh’s aide of 16 years, Anuradha Chaudhary, recently quit RLD to join the SP, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Man Friday Amar Singh had an ugly exit from the party a year ago.
Out in the field, however, each of these young men has a distinct style.Gandhi lashes out aggressively against rivals, does not hesitate in taking names or interacting closely with his audience, Yadav is soft spoken, intersperses his speeches with humour and shy smiles, while Chaudhary opens his interactions with the customary "Ram, Ram" and reels out statistics to make his point and connect.
While Gandhi and Yadav have covered the length and breadth of the state, Chaudhary is focusing on family turf west UP.
Prof SK Dwivedi of Lucknow University finds the trend of dynastic politics disturbing. “All three parties have seasoned politicians, but their high commands are promoting the sons. The three have not attained the kind of maturity many senior politicians...have.”
While a victory in UP would mark the arrival of Gandhi on the national scene, Yadav can hope for his maiden stint in the assembly. The latter’s uncle Shivpal Yadav has already indicated chief ministership for him if the SP forms government. Likewise, a major stake in the state is what Ajit Singh was eyeing when he fielded Jayant from his pocket borough of Mathura.
The three scions, meanwhile, are using every trick in the bag to woo the elusive voter of UP. As for speculation about their political future — the verdict will be out on March 6.