It is hardly a surprise that political parties in Uttar Pradesh have already given the war cry for next year’s assembly elections. The process had started a few months after the Lok Sabha polls of 2009.
However, the issues are very much the same as last time: poor governance, deteriorating law and order, and so on. But chief minister Mayawati has her own plans to counter the opposition.
In addition to this, the social alliance factor, which had worked wonders for Mayawati in 2007, is still there. Besides keeping the party machinery well-oiled, the SP has declared candidates for more than 200 of the 403 seats in the state.
Rita Bahuguna, president of the UP unit of the Congress, is talking about “non-governance since the Congress was ousted from power (in 1989)”.
The party is banking heavily on general secretary Rahul Gandhi and the pre-poll alliance the Congress may strike with Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has pockets of influence in west UP, and the fledgling Peace Party, which has been making waves in the eastern part of the state.
Though the Gandhis (Sonia and Rahul) are said to be against an alliance with Ajit Singh, who has shifted allegiance in the past, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh is apparently working on that “winning formula”.
The party is still giving a final shape to its manifesto. It is yet to start the short-listing of candidates.
Meanwhile, attitudes are hardening. The opposition has taken to the streets to drum up the government perceived failure on the law and order front. And there will be no respite from this till the elections.
A recent order of the state government says political parties and other organisations will have to apply for the district administration’s permission weeks before staging demonstrations.
The state government disallowed Rahul Gandhi’s demonstration in Bhatta-Parsaul, and denied permission to hold the Congress’s nyay meeting in Lucknow.
The BJP has been in the doldrums since the 2007 polls. But now it has re-inducted the backward caste face of the party, Uma Bharti, known for her political acumen as well as organisational strength.
However, she seems to be caught in a time warp. The Ram temple is still the core issue for her.
Communal and caste issues are on the backburner. While many believe the TINA (there is no alternative) factor will work in favour of Mayawati, others feel it is going to be the Congress vs BSP.
Akhilesh Yadav, state president of the Samajwadi Party, does not agree. “We are going to present ourselves as the only viable alternative to Mayawati’s misrule.”
Will the current spate of rapes be forgotten by May next year? A senior officer said: “If we can deliver in the last year of the five-year tenure, no one can stop Mayawati from coming back to power.”