UP Elections 2017: As the nation continues to struggle and come to grips with the post-demonetisation economy and a new digitalised social order, the UP elections 2017 continue to warm up as all the four major contesting parties- the BJP, Akhilesh Yadav-led SP, Mayawati-led BSP and the Congress seek to make gains as polling dates draw closer. The fates of 403 seats of the UP Vidhan Sabha or the legislative assembly hang in the balance. A fifth party has also entered the fray: the Rashtriya Lok Dal or the RLD, whose Chief Ministerial face is Jayant Chaudhary,grandson of former PMCharan Singh and son of Ajit Singh, the controversial former union minister.
Let us look at the fates and the current predicament of these parties in the UP Elections 2017:
- The Samajwadi Partyis the incumbent ruling party. Akhilesh Yadav, the SP scion and the CM, enjoys a clean image and is considered a youth icon, but factionalism may cost his party dearly. Relations between him and his uncle Shivpal Yadav are at an all-time low. With multiple power centres in the SP, Akhilesh may look forward to an alliance with on-and-off friend the Congress. According to a Hindustan Times report, the Congress, which had initially asked for 120-130 seats in case of a tie-up, now seeks to contest from only 70 seats. At one point in time, the Congress had looked forward to tie-up with Mayawati, but nothing came out of that. The SP will look to garner more support from the Muslim and other backwards class votes in order to steal the thunder from the BSP. The polling demographics indicate that Muslims constitute 18-19% of the total voter population in UP, with the Yadavs coming in with 14-15%. The Other Backward Classes (OBCs) form 51% of the total population in UP.
- TheBahujan Samaj Party is led by Mayawati, who calls herself the messiah of the Dalit and the downtrodden. She has her eyes set on the Muslim votes too; in August 2016, four Muslim MLAs, 3 from Congress (Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, Dilnawaz Khan and Mohammad Muslim Khan), 1 from Samajwadi Party (Nawazish Alam Khan) and a former BJP minister Awadesh Kumar Verma joined the BSP. On the other hand, the BSP is suffering from a serious funding problem. Mayawati’s image has also taken a beating as she was widely considered corrupt, which led to her losing the elections in 2012. Mayawati has accused the BJP of using “various tactics to divide” the “Bahujan Samaj”, which, according to her, includes people from Dalit, OBC, Muslim and other religious minorities, acording to this report.
- The Bharatiya Janata Party is led by PM Narendra Modi, who uses his larger-than-life persona to woo voters. No CM face has been announced. This time, there has been no mention of the Ayodhyatemple issue; development is the key word. However, post demonetisation, thousands of daily wage earners have lost their jobs, as this article points out, in cities like Agra, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Ferozabad and Aligarh. The BJP has three advantages too: people still believe in the short-term pain for long-time gain. Also, since there is no ‘Mahagatbandhan’ a la Bihar, the BJP will benefit from the macho image that PM Modi has conveyed.
- Finally,for the UP Elections 2017, the Congress party led by Raj Babbar and with Sheila Dikshit as its CM face does not look to be making any progress. Prashant Kishor, who was brought in by the Congress as a strategy consultant, seems to be ill-at-ease to project the image of Rahul Gandhi as its youth iconand is planning to introduce Priyanka Gandhi as a campaign face.Kishore in 2007 had refused Rahul Gandhi’s proposal to build a super-speciality hospital in Amethi. Rahul Gandhi has also not done himself credit by coming up with odd comments like“Khoon ki dalali” for the PM. Moreover, prominent Brahmin face Rita Bahuguna Joshi left to join the BJP, keeping th UP Congress rudderless in the face of the UP Elections 2017.
In other news, due to the upcoming elections, the dates of Class 10 and Class 12 exam for 2017 have been cancelled due to state elections, with the Election Commission directing the Board of Exams to consult them before announcing the annual exam dates. As many as 60,29,252 candidates have registered for class 10 and 12 Board exams for the academic year 2016-17, reports the Indian Express. The whole situation prior to the UP Elections 2017 reminds one of the former British PM Benjamin Disraeli, who said,”There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics.” It remains to be seen how well the voters can separate the grain from the chaff.