In Uttar Pradesh, parties in overdrive for assembly polls

Lucknow: Although assembly elections are a good two years away, political players in Uttar Pradesh are already in an overdrive. Political battle lines in the sprawling state have not been erased, even a month after
in uttar pradesh parties in overdrive for...
IANS June 24, 2014 18:54 IST
Lucknow: Although assembly elections are a good two years away, political players in Uttar Pradesh are already in an overdrive. Political battle lines in the sprawling state have not been erased, even a month after the Lok Sabha election in which the BJP virtually wiped out everyone else.

Topping the political chart is the Bharatiya Janata Party, which lapped up 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats and is now eyeing Lucknow. Two other seats went to its ally Apna Dal.

The BJP is on the streets over issues that matter: power outages and growing crime against women. BJP activists have come to blows with workers of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Lucknow. The BJP has started an overhaul of district party units and is focusing on the seven parliamentary seats it lost in the Lok Sabha battle: five to the Samajwadi Party and two to the Congress.

The party has announced special observers or caretakers for these seven constituencies.

Union minister Kalraj Mishra has been tasked with Rae Bareli, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's fortress, while Keshav Maurya, has been given charge of Amethi, which Rahul Gandhi represents in the Lok Sabha.

Kaushal Kishore, another MP, has been asked to strengthen the BJP in Mainpuri and the task in Azamgarh has been given to Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav won both the seats.

The Congress, which lost 20 seats over its 2009 tally while retaining only Amethi and Rae Bareli, is slowly working on the faultlines and has stepped up efforts to reactivate dejected party members.

After a first 'open dinner' for over 5,000 party workers in her constituency, Sonia Gandhi has instructed party secretary Prakash Joshi to criss-cross the state to get ground-level feedback.

Joshi is scheduled to begin the exercise from Bahraich June 26. Another Congress leader, Zuber Khan, will tour the state from Tuesday in a trip that will take him to Kanpur, Unnao, Kannauj, Mainpuri and Etawah - all known Samajwadi Party bastions.

The party has already dissolved all district units and the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.

On its part, the Samajwadi Party has sacked all party leaders holding state minister ranks, has rejigged the cabinet, dropped a minister and has done away with all party affiliate wings and district units.

The message, say party leaders, is not to crib and sulk but move on with a vengeance.

In the past one week alone, the party has held state-wide protests against the rail fare hike, burning Prime Minister Narendra Modi in effigy.

The state government has sought to bring back on track its efforts to regain its traditional vote bank of farmers by making more budgetary provisions for the agriculture sector.

Taking a leaf out of the BJP's credo of development, spending in infrastructure, power and roads has been increased manifold by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which drew a blank in the Lok Sabha election, has also fast-tracked preparedness for the assembly elections due in 2017.

Party chief Mayawati has sacked senior party office bearers and effected a major overhaul.

The 'zonal coordinator' system, once the backbone of the Dalit party, has been done away with. It is now focussing in a big way to re-assimilate its core votebank which drifted to the BJP in the 2014 polls.

The party has set its eyes on western Uttar Pradesh, its traditional stronghold from where it was wiped out in the Lok Sabha election.

Other than assessing what went wrong, the BSP is trying to consolidate its position as the number two player in the state. Despite not winning a single Lok Sabha seat, its candidates stood second in most places.

After the BJP's triumph, its affiliate Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) have begun to spread their tentacles in Uttar Pradesh.

While the VHP held a major event in the state capital last week in which firebrand Pravin Togadia took part, the RSS is also organizing an event to lure the gen next.

Everything is being done with one single motive: to seize power in Uttar Pradesh.
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