The BJP will vanquish the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Congress with ease in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, Amit Anilchandra Shah, the BJP's political Chanakya, declared with typical finality last week.
A colleague who has just returned from the state reveals there is a strong current of support for the Samajwadi Party among BJP cadres deeply unhappy with the present state administration.
Since political gossip always thrives in India's most populous and arguably most politically vibrant state, there are also murmurs that Shah and his boss would not want Yogi Adityanath to win the kind of majority that the BJP won in the 2017 assembly election. Reason: Yogi has developed into an independent power centre, something unthinkable in the we-all-kowtow-to-Modi-Shah BJP era.
What we find interesting are the crowds Akhilesh Yadav has been attracting on his Samajwadi Vijay Rath Yatra in the state.
The Samajwadi Party president, who has been observing some kind of political maun vrat during the Yogi years, has roared into business with his recent pre-election rallies, and even though these are early days, Akhilesh's yatras may indicate that it is not a done deal at the political turnstiles for Yogi and his party yet.
Please click on the images below for a better look at Akhilesh Yadav's rally in Kushinagar, November 14, 2021, and other cities.
All Photographs: Pawan Kumar/ANI Photo
IMAGE: Akhilesh at a kashyap sammelan in Muzaffarnagar.
IMAGE: And Akhilesh in Hardoi.