Uttar Pradesh, with its diverse caste matrix, is one of the most difficult states where election results can be predicted with absolute certainty. This perhaps explains the logic why most of the post poll surveys that have come out after the last round of polling on March 3 have virtually failed to give a clear sense of what might be in store for us on the 6th of March when the results will be out.
But the bigger question, as posed by a few poll surveys and being strongly debated is whether or not Mayawati will be wiped out in these elections. Is she holding on to her core Jatav vote this time? Some polls seem to have suggested that Jatavs are slipping away from Mayawati. If (a big if here) Jatavs really desert Mayawati, this not only means BSP getting wiped off
Perhaps for first time, an election is not only being keenly contested but also being even more keenly discussed - from paan shops to party headquarters to the newsrooms of media houses, its Uttar Pradesh elections that is the topic of discussion these days. India's most populous state is witnessing one of the most fiercely fought and perhaps the most unpredictable political battles in recent history.
What makes UP's elections fascinating this time is fact that this land of the holy Ganges and revered Yamuna is witnessing a four cornered battle between two major regional pla
Even at this early stage of the UP elections, a few predictions can still be made with reasonable certainty. One is the results will produce a hung Assembly with neither of the two major parties - the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) that happen to be regional and not national ones - getting a majority of its own.
The second safe forecast is that the SP will align with the Congress. The two were allies in the state when the SP was in office before Mayawati swept into power in 2007. The Congress and the SP came even closer together when the latter left the company of the Communists and decided to support the Congress in parliament on the nuclear deal in 2008.
The episode in 1999 when the SP had scuttled the Congress'
I watched the BJP's spokesperson sporting the familiar self-righteous countenance indignantly trashing Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid's speech at Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh which has set the Ganges on fire. The Election Commission has been doing an outstanding job, so I will refrain from adding my three-bit of prudence on the EC's ire, excepting to say that other than usual electoral campaigning rhetoric that invariably occurs when addressing restless crowds, I did not see an orchestrated, deliberate attempt to undermine the constitutional authority of the EC albeit it may unintentionally have resulted in that consequence.
It seemed like a spontaneous outburst amidst cacophonous wild energy of teeming crowds that made for magnetic sound byte. But anyway, what was not surprising was the immediate collective chorus of the saffron brigade to demand Khurshid's prompt resignation for creating a "constitutional crisis". It was followed by a
A teary-eyed Congress as election fever heats up in Uttar Pradesh. Two rounds of votes have been polled. Congress continues to cling on to its only hope called Rahul Gandhi. The party brings up Batla House time and again - sometimes to clarify, at other times to retract the earlier clarification! We don't know when Law Minister Salman Khurshid saw tears in the eyes of party president Sonia Gandhi after the encounter, followed soon by the original Batla House vigilante, Digvijaya Singh. Singh quickly denied any tears from Sonia after the Batla incident. Now whether or not Sonia cried after the encounter is something only she knows. But it's clear now that Congress needs the Batla tears in UP elections 2012.
The government has clarified long time ago that the Batla House encounter was genuine. Then why does Congress raise it? Simple.
Sitapur, UP: Between the circling helicopter and the massive crowds there is almost a telepathic connection. Seconds before the chopper appears, a sparse crowd blooms into a sudden multitude. Silence and murmurings mutate into chants and shouts. Scores of blue elephant shaped balloons dance into the air. Mayawati's helicopter hovers. On the ground buntings, flags, streamers, waving hands reach upward. The helicopter descends into a mammoth flash fiesta, where only seconds before there were just a few thin lines of dozing cadres.
Waiting journalists (your columnist among them) bl
Crowds and helicopter embody the Mayawati paradox. The face of the Dalit revolution who now brazenly flaunts state power. Ruling in the name of the poorest of the poor and herself one
To Rahul, should go the credit of helping the Congress finally shed its faade of secularism.
Rajiv Gandhi, India's youngest PM, had lots going for him until the Shah Bano case happened in 1986. The Congress party which had an absolute majority in Parliament at the time, passed an act called The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 that nullified the Supreme Court's ruling that Shah Bano, a poor widow be given maintenance money similar to alimony.
The government's reaction in this case seemed mired in confusion. The same government which initially seemed prepared to defend the Supreme Court's secular judgment, when confronted with the prospect of antagonising the minority votes, did a volte face and instead went all out to appease regressive sentiments.
Rajiv, sure, must have regretted his
In 1999, we experienced a 'television moment'. We were covering Sonia Gandhi's Amethi campaign when we happened to meet her daughter Priyanka. For the next several hours, Priyanka took us on a whirlwind tour across the constituency. There were fewer camera crews then, so there wasn't a mad scramble for sound bites. Priyanka was made for television: attractive, charming and spontaneous. She even had lunch with us under a banyan tree, spoke at length on her family legacy and clearly revelled in the public glare. It was probably her first ever TV interaction but she didn't miss a beat. We were, well, bowled over.
Thirteen years later, little seems to have changed. She still offers an infectious smile, wears colourful designer khadi saris, relates to the crowd with great warmth and willingly speaks to the camera. The travelling media (now more a circus)
He was a school teacher, with a love for wrestling. He entered politics and became the Chief Minister of UP. That is a brief introduction of Mulayam Singh Yadav. The forthcoming Assembly elections may mark the end of Mulayam's political career. He has reached an age where a leader has to pass his legacy on to his successor. Mulayam was remarkably prompt in this regard. Today, Akhilesh Yadav runs the Samajwadi Party.
Mulayam was a socialist. However, to call him a socialist today would be a travesty. Mulayam may not like me saying that, but still, truth must be told. Politics had killed the socialist in him long time ago. He joined the league of those extraordinary men in politics who say one thing and do another. Mulayam represented a possibility. But the compulsions of polity killed that possibility.
It was nice to see a confident and animated Uma Bharti on TV, again. There was a time when Uma ruled the roost, but soon she ran out of luck. First she lost the Chief Ministership in Madhya Pradesh, then she was chucked out of the party. She formed a new party, but it didn't work. People started forgetting her. The firebrand BJP leader, who once made headlines with her vitriolic speeches on Ayodhya started making news for slapping her party worker. The Sanyasin of the BJP seemed to have taken a real political 'sanyas'.
Well, she is back in the party as well as in the news, thanks to party president Nitin Gadkari. When the Ram Temple movement was at its peak, a young Uma was the face of the party, loved by both L K Advani as well as the RSS.