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Nobody has a clue: Voters to have the last laugh in Uttar Pradesh!
The space is heating up for the elections to be held next year and political parties are trying to find the perfect caste combination to trump others. After a decade, the contest is three-cornered. The UP elections in 2007 and 2012 were essentially a fight between regional parties SP and BSP. Congress, revved up by strategist Prashant Kishor, is also trying to make a big impact.

It's clear that it's a do or die battle for Amit Shah after having lost Bihar. A loss again in the Hindi heartland could see him lose his job, as anti-Modi camps are waiting to strike back with their pointed knives. The elections will also have an impact on BJP ruled states Gujarat, MP, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan which will go to polls before next Lok Sabha polls.

TV channel ABP News published opinion poll results this week carried out by CSDS-Lokniti. The poll predicts a hung assembly in UP with SP ahead, followed by BJP and BSP. ABP News also carried out another two polls on UP - one in March with Nielsen and another just few days ago in August with Cicero.

Interestingly, all these agencies have given different results exhibiting the complexity of the UP elections. The poll in March predicted a hung assembly with BSP ahead (185 seats). The poll in the beginning of August by Cicero put BJP ahead in the race to form government (no seats projected) with 32% vote share.

While it can be said that between March and now, things have changed, leaders leaving BSP on allegations of sale of tickets, Dalit agitation etc., what has changed between August beginning and now? These surveys add to the chaos and confusion.

Party   Nielsen  
 (March)
  Cicero
 (August)
 
 CSDS-Lokniti 
 (August)
 
 BJP 24%  32%  27%
 BSP 31%  24%  26%
 SP 23%  26%  30%
 Congress  11%  7%  5%
 Others 11%  11%  12%
    

Source: ABP News Surveys

Three clear trends emerge from all these surveys - (i) SP vote share has been consistently rising, (ii) Congress vote share is on a decline (Prashant Kishor impact?) and (iii) Others have maintained their vote share. The SP-led government has done well on most of the fronts and is seen lacking only on the law and order front as per their supporters.

Who will win Uttar Pradesh is a million dollar question about which nobody has a clue. Extrapolating the results from a small sample of voters to the larger state may no longer yield results. Indian elections becoming complex and difficult to predict accurately.

In a state as big and diverse as UP having seven distinct regions each having their own dynamics, unless an agency visits each and every seat (like done by Axis for Bihar), it's impossible to predict accurately the number of seats.

The voter of UP has always surprised analysts and this time also it could be no different situation. In the 2007 elections, BSP's victory was a surprise for everybody as polls were depicting a hung assembly. In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Congress won 21 seats, while it had never won more than 10 seats since 1989.

In 2012 assembly elections, Akhilesh won an absolute majority when polls again predicted a hung assembly. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party did not dream that it would get 73 seats.

These are early days and many voters could still be undecided. They would firm up their choice nearer to the elections and decide based on candidate selection by the parties. Ultimately, the voter of UP will have the last laugh because "Yeh jo public hai, Yeh sab jaanti hai".

The UP elections have all the elements of a Bollywood potpourri where the leadership theory will again be put to test. Will BJP go leaderless like in Maharashtra, Haryana, J&K and Jharkhand where it won riding on Modi wave or will it announce a CM candidate? Can it pull off a win without naming a CM candidate?

Can Akhilesh score a double victory? Can Maya lure Muslims and form an unbeatable Dalit-Muslim combination? For answers to all these questions we have to wait till early next year….

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