UP political parties brace for snap polls (UP Newsletter)

Lucknow, May 4 (IANS) Are fast-tracked preparations by political parties in Uttar Pradesh a signal that the Lok Sabha elections may be held earlier than scheduled?

Even as the Congress-led UPA says that the elections will be held “on schedule” in 2014, hectic spadework by the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) appears to hint otherwise.

The BSP and SP are key to the survival of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government. Speculation is rife that polling might be held in October.

While the BSP has named 75 percent of its Lok Sabha candidates, the SP has declared most candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in which SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav hopes to be “king” rather than “king-maker”.

Party insiders say the SP is for now posturing as anti-establishment and wants its confused supporters to realise they have started keeping a distance from the United Progressive Alliance.

“Our Netaji (as Mulayam is known as) is very clear that we are not in sync with the Congress but support it to stop communal forces from taking power,” says Prisons Minister Rajendra Chowdhary, also the SP’s state spokesman.

The verbal barbs from central Steel Minister and Congress leader Beni Prasad Verma have only contributed to the drift between the two parties, a leader says.

Following the realization that the two cannot cling on to each other for too long, the SP has started preparing for the Lok Sabha polls.

It has held three major conventions, including one for Brahmins and upper castes, in an attempt to address their reported disillusionment with the SP government.

Mulayam Singh Yadav has also announced that on the lines of the criminal cases being withdrawn against ‘innocent’ Muslims, cases slapped on Brahmins would also be taken aback.

Mayawati, on her part, has finalized the political strategy of her party for the Lok Sabha polls.

Party strategists told IANS that while the BSP chief would target the SP misrule, she would also reserve some vitriol for the Congress.

“Behenji knows very well that the days of the Congress are numbered and that she will have to compete with the SP to win maximum number of Lok Sabha seats from UP,” says a party leader.

In sync with this line, the party has begun mending fences and building bridges with Muslims, who deserted her in the 2012 assembly polls when she lost badly to SP.

The party is also ready with a back-to-back programme of Brahmin conventions in the 36 Lok Sabha constituencies where candidates have been announced.

The first phase kicked off Saturday in Poorvanchal from the Khalilabad Lok Sabha seat. The BSP holds 19 seats in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

Of the 36 seats in Poorvanchal, the BSP is trying to revive the magic of its social engineering and has fielded 19 Brahmin candidates this time.

“Experience would show the Brahmin community that BSP is their biggest friend,” says Bhisma Shankar Tiwari, the local BSP candidate.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has 10 seats in the current Lok Sabha, plans to “at least double its seats” and is busy oiling its organisational structure.

Congress too has begun preparations for the general elections and is kicking off a ‘divisional karyakarta sammelans’ from May 14 to 22.

The brainchild of Nirmal Khatri, the state Congress president, these conventions are aimed at connecting with the workers.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])

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