It's Mayawati vs the rest in UP elections 2012
The race for the next state assembly in Uttar Pradesh may be largely four cornered. But it is increasingly evident that the electoral battle slated for February in the country's most populous state is bound to largely remain Mayawati vs. the rest, reports Sharat Pradhan.
Be it Samajwadi Party, the leading opposition group, the Congress or the Bhartiya Janata Party, each one is ready to dig into the votes of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, which not only managed to romp home in 2007 with 206 seats in the 403 member house, but also raised its strength over the past four years to 218.
The common ground on which Mayawati and her regime are being targetted ahead of the election is 'large scale corruption' and 'despotism' brazenly displayed by the chief minister and her blue-eyed boys.
What had also gone against her is her confinement to her ivory towers, where none other than those invited by her could have an audience with her. The result is obvious -- she remains oblivious of the ground reality, say many.
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Image: Mayawati greeted by BSP workers during a poll campaign in Lucknow
Maya's strategy to train her guns at each of her rivals
While SP's Mulayam Singh Yadav was busy accusing Mayawati of running the state like her 'private fiefdom', Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was busy blasting the ruling party for 'large-scale pilferage of funds' released by the Centre towards various development, social security or poverty alleviation programmes.
BJP had been trying to dismiss the BSP as among the "most corrupt regimes in the country."
Interestingly, while taking on each one of these political outfits by the horn, Mayawati was trying to fight back with all her might.
Sure enough the task was neither easy nor simple. In the absence of sufficient genuine achievements that she could boast of, Mayawati's strategy was focused on training her guns at each of the political rivals.
Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has accused Mayawati of running a 'personal fiefdom' in UP
'Mayawati aims to impress voters by her anti-corruption moves'
Labelling SP as a party of 'criminals' and reminding people of the 'rise in crime during the Mulayam regime', Mayawati was hoping to sail through by reviving her image of a ruthlessly tough task-master who was ready to bring every criminal to book.
"You can see how unlike any other party, the BSP has never protected any one -- no matter however high or mighty -- in case he was found indulging in any kind of criminal activities," she claims, while citing the example of her party MPs or MLAs, who were put behind bars no sooner than their unlawful activities came to the fore.
"I have not even spared my ministers whom I have sacked once they were indicted by the state Lokayukta for being involved in corruption," she emphasises.
At least four of her important ministers and nearly half a dozen of her party MPs or legislators got axed over the past few months, though her detractors were of the view that such action was initiated essentially to impress upon the electorate that she continued to remain a 'no-nonsense' chief minister, even as accusations of her personal indulgence in corruption were gaining ground.
Notwithstanding her tall claims, there was little that she could do about the anti-incumbency factor that was hanging over her. And none of the key opposition parties were ready to let go the opportunity to convert her losses into their gains.
Image: Men on motorcycle ride past Mayawati's picture in Lucknow as campaign season sets in UP
Congress faced with the toughest task
Thus, if Mulayam was working up to snatch the Muslim vote from her existing kitty to raise its 2007 tally of 97, BJP, with its 2007 strength of 51, was moving heaven and earth to woo Brahmins back to its fold after a chunk of them had gone all out to support Mayawati in 2007 to forge a unique Dalit-Brahmin axis that propelled her to power.
Numerically speaking, it was the Congress that is faced with the toughest call -- to take its tally ahead from its last assembly's score of 22 . Therefore, it is leaving no stone unturned to win back Muslims as well as a section of dalits and the most backward castes. And that was where Rahul Gandhi was doing his bit to attack both BSP and SP.
Under the prevailing scenario, political pundits as well as surveys have already predicted a hung assembly in 2012.
But with politicos known to be making strange bedfellows, it would be really too early predict the post-poll picture. For the time being, it is going to be Mayawati versus SP, Congress and BJP.
Image: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi campaigns in UP