Countdown to 2014 Election - UP remains key state to watch out for...

Written by: Pathikrit

Uttar Pradesh map
New Delhi, Jan 16: Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India which sends 80 MPs to the Parliament, has always been the most critical state in terms of the calculations of political parties so far as forming government in the centre goes. For long it is a known fact that whoever has control on UP's electorate would invariably play a very critical role in national politics. If not for anything else, then it is just the sheer size of the number of MPs it elects that compels every political party with national ambitions to take this state seriously.

Over the last several years it has been the regional parties like Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party with their primary bastions in UP, who have ruled the roost of the state and have been successful in getting many of their candidates elected. It is also a known fact that in the largest state of India, caste, creed and communal aspect have always played a key role. Regional political parties like SP and BSP have exploited that to the hilt and done their best to use caste and religious fault lines to garner as much votes as possible through polarisation. Interestingly development was never such a big issue. But all of that perhaps is now changing.

For more than a decade or so both Congress and BJP have had extremely limited success in Uttar Pradesh. Needless to say that it resulted in much instability in the central government and considerable dependence on the UP based allies. On several occasions over the last 10 years of UPA rule, the regime had to depend on the support of SP and BSP to do the rescue act.

In UP, caste, creed and communal aspect have always played a key role

However, this time it seems that both BJP and Congress are trying to get back their lost turf in UP. While Rahul Gandhi of Congress has been trying that for quite some time, in case of BJP, the party now seems to be gaining quite a bit of the lost ground in UP. Poll predictions by brokerage house IIFL now predicts that BJP might win as many as 50 of the 80 seats from Uttar Pradesh. Other recent poll predictions have put the figure much higher than what the tally was for BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections from UP.

While only time would reveal as to whether the national parties would eventually be able to get their toehold in Uttar Pradesh, fact of the matter remains that sheer indifference and reluctance of the Uttar Pradesh Government to prevent the communal flare-up in Muzaffarnagar as well as the appalling condition of the relief camps in addition to the worsening condition of the law & order situation might all work against not just the SP but also against the other major regional party of UP, i.e. BSP.

While the anti-incumbency factor against the previous BSP led UP Government due to major cases of corruption led to the landslide victory of Samajwadi Party in the last UP assembly elections, the disenchantment and disillusionment of the people of UP with the inability of Akhilesh Yadav regime to make the situation any better, and eventually making it even more worse, might make the voters look for better alternative among the national parties.

But issues of corruption, massive inflation and also the failure of the UPA Government to get tough on the failure of the SP Government on the issue of riots, may just tilt scales in favour of the other national party, namely BJP. However it is still to be seen as to whether the disenchantment, the disillusionment and other factors would eventually compel the UP electorate to come out of their caste lines and vote beyond that.

If national parties do better than the regional parties in UP during the Lok Sabha elections, then it might herald a new era of consolidation of national parties and marginalisation of the regional ones and would prove that the MY or the Muslim-Yadav factor is no more working for Samajwadi Party much in the same manner in which disenchanted voters left Lalu Prasad in the lurch in Bihar.

The Lok Sabha elections are still three good months away and much can happen in between. It is to be also seen as to whether the AAP factor or the results of the assembly election results in the states of Rajashthan , Madhya Pradesh, Chhattigarh and Delhi would have any impact on the final decision of the voters of UP. But whatever the case may be UP would again prove how it would continue to be the most critical state so far as India's national elections for Lok Sabha are concerned.

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