Even as the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Congress, fresh in the Uttar Pradesh election fray as partners, are still working over the seat-sharing formula in some districts, the campaign vehicles of the party have started reflecting the new political reality.
As Chierf Minister Akhilesh Yadav kicked off his campaign with a visit to the Sultanpur district on Tuesday, the new campaign vehicles being readied have incorporated the changes. Now, the visuals prominently depict Akhilesh and his wife Dimple as the two main faces, while smaller pictures of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra are placed in a row in the space above.
The slogans also reflect the new reality - the SP flag is followed by the lines Ummeed ki cycle after which the 'hand' symbol of the Congress is placed. On the lower side is the line - Ekta aur vishwas ki shakti (strength of unity and trust.)
It is learnt that the design for the vehicles has been decided by the core team of Samajwadi Party campaign strategists in consultation with some Congress leaders.
It is understood that the much-publicised Vikas Rath - the modified Mercedes luxury bus meant for campaigning by Akhilesh -- may also be given a makeover to reflect the alliance.
The high-end luxury bus, which was flagged off in the initial days of the conflict within the Samajwadi Party in November, had been called off the road after a technical snag and was seen parked at the Samajwadi Party office in Lucknow since then. There had been many announcements that Akhilesh would start his campaign in the bus after it was made roadworthy by a team of technicians, but a date for the campaign could not be fixed in view of the prolonged dispute.
The bus was only briefly taken out twice, once on the day the chief minister drove on a stretch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway to declare it open, and the second on the day the Lucknow Metro trial run was started.
The SP campaign features only Akhilesh and Dimple as the main faces, while Mulayam has been placed at par with Rahul and Priyanka. The Congress publicity material, it is learnt, is still being finalised as there is a debate on whether it should feature Akhilesh, Dimple or Mulayam, and in which manner. The front visual has a large picture of Akhilesh with Rahul-Priyanka on one side and Dimple on the other. Mulayam's picture is not featured on this side.
It is also noteworthy that the disagreement between SP and Congress over seat sharing in places like Rae Bareli and Amethi has not been resolved yet as the Congress is learnt to be keen to contest from atleast seven out of 10 seats in these two areas.
Incidentally, both Amethi and Rae Bareli will see polling in the fourth and fifth phase, for which nominations begin on January 30 and February 2, respectively.
According to sources in SP election office, the visual impact of the new design is meant to highlight Akhilesh and his wife, since the Chief Minister is supposed to be the main draw for the people.
A large number of such small vehicles are expected to be ready in the next few days and these will be sent out to places across the state.