Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Kalyan Singh - all three leaders being projected by key political parties as their respective chief ministerial nominees in Uttar Pradesh are facing a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.
Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, being pushed by the ruling Samajwadi Party for another term in the coveted office, is currently facing a CBI probe against his "huge wealth" disproportionate to his sources of income.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and another contender, Mayawati, is still embroiled in the multimillion Taj corridor scam, regarding a decision when she was chief minister to grant contracts for the construction of a shopping mall and a tourist complex behind the Taj Mahal in violation of a Supreme Court order.
Bharatiya Janata Party;s (BJP) strongman Kalyan Singh, whom the party sees as the best bet as the state's next chief minister, continues to remain in the CBI net for his alleged role in the demolition of the 16th century Babri masjid in Ayodhya in December 1992.
Looks like the country's most populous and politically crucial state would be left with little choice but to be ruled only by one of these three.
"After all, these three leaders represent the three key political outfits that are currently running the real race for power in the state," remarked analyst Govind Ballabh Pant.
"Isn't it a tragedy that a state that was responsible for guiding India's political destiny for several decades today faces such a crisis of leadership that it does not have one ideal face to be the state's true idol," he wondered.
Busy promising the moon to the electorate as the state prepares for the seven phased polls beginning April 7, the three - all of whom have done two to three stints as chief minister - claim to provide "clean governance" to the corruption ravaged state.
While cases against both Mayawati and Kalyan Singh are currently pending before the country's apex court, Mulayam Singh is struggling to somehow thwart the CBI probe against him ordered recently by the Supreme court.
The chief minister is making a desperate bid to circumvent the probe by terming the complaint against him as "politically motivated".
The petitioner Vishwa Mohan Chaturvedi argues, "Well, since Mulayam Singh Yadav was in no position to explain the source of assets worth more than Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion), he is moving heaven and earth to give the most vital issue some twist to save his skin."
Mayawati is also using the same alibi and maintains that the Taj case is "politically motivated". She is willing to share bete noire Mulayam Singh's view that the CBI of "acting at the behest of the Congress party".
And, since Kalyan Singh could not find enough ground to defend himself in the Babri Masjid demolition case, he is going hammer and tongs to woo the Hindu hardline voter by highlighting the fact that he is being hounded for the "daring" act.