But the Congress has little to answer when it comes to corruption at the Centre or naming a Chief Ministerial candidate in the state.
As for BJP, which has often advocated bipolar polity in the country, it is riding on charisma of its most prominent OBC face Uma Bharti, recently imported from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh where she is a pariah in the party, the Hindu OBC card and Ram temple issue. But the corruption Karnataka and next door Uttarakhand, the factionalism within the state unit, the Kushwaha episode are questions that dog the party with a difference in its quest for votes.
While the ruling BSP seems confident that its core constituency remains intact, the fact remains that its social engineering, which worked wonders last time, would not deliver the same results with the so-called forwards not satisfied with the five year tenure.
The Samajwadi Party, which is hoping to reap major gains from anti-incumbency, is banking on return of Muslim votes lost due to Kalyan Singh factor last time. However, the lawlessness during Mulayam’s last tenure is still fresh in people’s minds and a major shift of non-Yadav votes to the party seems unlikely.
As for the Muslims, who every party is trying to woo except BJP, the community is divided as never before. If Mayawati had given them a sense of security, the Congress and SP are doling out carrots, which they are unable to resist. The community’s votes are heading for a three-way split. There are also smaller parties in the fray trying to cash in on the grievances in the community.
Therefore, predictions about a hung Assembly are not entirely unfounded. With almost all parties vowing not to align with each other, is Lucknow heading for a brief spell of President’s Rule, followed by a new set of permutations and combinations taking over the reins. As they say, in politics, there are no permanent friends and enemies.
However, the highest ever voter turnout in the state may also spring a surprise or two. Uttar Pradesh’s voter is playing his cards close to the chest. There could be an undercurrent which none of the pollsters, psephologists and socio-political scientists are unable to predict. Many such experts had hung their boots after NDA’s rout in 2004 and Mayawati’s triumph in 2007. It may not be necessarily instability. Politics is the art of possible.
As of now, it’s indeed U.P, an uncertain picture.
CJ: K G Suresh is a Delhi-based Senior Journalist and Editor of Critique.