'The unusual aspect of this election is that this time there is a triangular fight.'
'Previously, the fight used to be between two parties.'
Badri Narayan is a leading social historian, a chronicler of Dalit issues and the author of Bahujan Samaj party founder Kanshi Ram's political biography.
Professor Narayan discusses the early political trends in Uttar Pradesh with Rediff.com's Archana Masih.
Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personality play the dominating role for the Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign in Uttar Pradesh?
The Bihar campaign was also anchored on Modi's personality and we know what happened there.
You can't say that Modi's personality will work in UP like it did for the Lok Sabha election.
But the BJP is much stronger in UP than what it was in Bihar.
A recent report said the BJP has to fare four times worse than it did in Bihar if it were to lose UP.
True. But structure-wise, the BJP is not very strong in UP.
There are internal conflicts, but they have built the party around the image of Modi.
What is to be seen is how they will take that image to the election booth.
But the RSS is strong here compared to Bihar.
The RSS is stronger than the BJP here and this will benefit the BJP.
The RSS is the lifeforce of the BJP. They will manage the booths in this election.
Who will be the best chief ministerial face for the BJP?
The BJP has a problem because it has no well known face apart from Rajnath Singh in UP -- and Rajnath Singh will not come to UP (as CM).
There is no face in the state BJP that can compete with Akhilesh or Mayawati.
Is there a possibility of Priyanka Gandhi entering the fray?
She might increase the catchment area of her campaigning.
The Congress is going to lose this battle.
Prashant Kishore has given it some life, but that is not enough for it to make it to the triangle (a triangular contest).
It will be fourth.
If there is an alignment of the Samajwadi Party-Congress, then it will be part of the triangle along with the SP.
How do you see the dangal in the Samajwadi Party? Is the party heading for a split?
It can happen or it may not. It is difficult to say.
Regardless of the SP split or not, Uttar Pradesh will see a triangular fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.
If the Samajwadi Party is divided, then it will result in a direct contest between the BJP and the BSP.
Both the BJP and BSP will benefit from the division of the SP.
Is a split in the SP a given?
If there is no option left, then there will definitely be a split.
Mulayam wants to succumb, but Akhilesh is very adamant.
But it is difficult to say that the division will happen.
We are political analysts, we cannot predict the future.
If the split happens, Akhilesh is in a stronger position than Mulayam.
How has Akhilesh Yadav fared as chief minister?
In the first two-and-a-half years of his tenure, he did not do much work.
After 2.5 years, the work he undertook were conventional tasks like building roads, Metro rail in Lucknow, distributing mobile phones -- measures that are more for the middle class and have limited benefit for grassroot people.
With the help of the media, Akhilesh has created this perception that he has done development.
The perception is larger than reality. What is called as hyper reality.
Where do you see the Muslim vote in UP gravitating to in this election?
If Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh separate from each other and there is a split, then a large number of Muslims will move to the BSP.
If they don't separate, there will still be a division of the Muslim vote between the BSP, SP and some to the Congress too.
But mostly they will go to the BSP and SP.
Do you see a Congress-SP alignment happening?
Possible. It will be a good strategy for the SP and Congress.
This will be a disadvantage to the BSP as far as the Muslim vote is concerned.
Mayawati has given 97 tickets to Muslims, the highest ever. What is her strategy going to be? She can't afford to lose two elections in a row.
Her effort is to create a Dalit-Muslim alliance.
Apart from this, the tickets she has given to candidates from other castes, she hopes will fetch her votes from those castes as well.
If she is successful in combining Dalit-Muslims and other castes, she hopes to win.
This is her strategy, it is to be seen how successful this can be.
What will happen to the BSP if it were to lose this election?
Mayawati chaupat ho jayengi (Mayawati will be ruined). It will be bad days for Mayawati.
It is widely believed that the BJP will carry on with its 2014 momentum and win this election.
It is a very tough contest. No party can be sure, you cannot say what the outcome will be.
The unusual aspect of this election is that this time there is a triangular fight.
Previously, the fight used to be between two parties.
What effect will notebandi have on the election?
It will be divided. A section of the middle class will vote for the BJP, the marginals and those who are suffering may go against the BJP.
IMAGE: A supporter of BSP chief Mayawati at a BSP rally. Photograph: Pawan Kumar/Reuters