New Delhi: Major political parties Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the ruling Samajwadi Party are going all the way out to conquer Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections. UP has 80 seats to offer, the largest amongst the states, which makes it very crucial and decides who forms the government at the Centre.
While Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has already proclaimed that no government could be formed at the Centre without an active role of Uttar Pradesh, opposition Bahujan Samaj Party will also be leaving no stone unturned to regain the party's might post a debacle in the Assembly elections.
UP is also the state that houses the Lok Sabha constituencies of Congress top brass - Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. However, the anti-incumbency wave across the country against Congress is likely to hit the party in Uttar Pradesh too.
In the 1990s, the Bharatiya Janata Party was the dominant force in the state. The saffron brigade had bagged 58 seats in the 1998 polls but had tragically slipped to a mere 10 seats in 2009.
While former CM Mayawati has declared that she would not join hands with Narendra Modi at the Centre, she is looking to make inroads into 19 per cent Muslim vote in the state.
Uttar Pradesh is also important as it is likely to witness a direct battle between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, one a declared PM candidate and the other top favourite among party cadres for the coveted post.
While Rahul's constituency is Amethi, there have been reports of Modi making his way to Parliament by contesting the polls from a UP seat.
Another contendor for the PM post is Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh who has been quite vocal of his PM aspirations. The Samajwadi Party supremo had in the past indicated of leading a 'Third Front' saying that the 16th Lok Sabha would see a non-BJP, non-Congress government.
Hence, the 16th Lok Sabha elections will be interesting to watch with the regional parties slugging it out against each other and at the same time with the BJP and Congress to make a space for themselves in the national arena.