Uttar Pradesh is still the largest state in India and what happens there in the assembly elections has repurcussions over the politics of the nation as a whole. Maybe not, purely in terms of numbers yes, but national trends? Definitely not. Why? simply because UP has become an extraordinary melting pot of short term political machinations which rarely go beyond forming a government. Whats up this time? Have not spent too much time on this, just a macro view. Have to travel in UP sometime.
1) BJP: I like the bbc usage of the 'hindu' nationalist party. It s not so much hindu as hindu far right. Thats what the VHP, RSS and the Bajrang Dal would want. A BJP that goes no holds barred on a Hindutva movement. Again not quite, over the last general election and few assembly elections in the states the BJP and its ideological partners have realized that elections are won mostly on local issues combined with the nationwide problems of 'inflation' and 'employment'. The problem BJP faces is that there is not genuine face of the party. Atalji is gone, Advani always looks like a pirate and Rajnath is desperate. (Last heard his son is coming in to fight in the assembly...ya the electiosn in interior heartlands are supposed to be a literal fight). They cannot use Modi, even the development face of his because he is too sensitive and also he is larger than the party. There have been comments that the party organization is in doldrums at the local level in UP. But, still it is UP, the land of 'Caste' and BJP always has a chance.
2) The Congress (I): The congress g rather, their best bet is to field Priyanka as the beti of the nation. Oh c'mon, this is a sure long term bet. She does not look stupid, can speak Hindi and the mother fearing AP-Tam-Hindi belt would vote in droves for her if packaged properly. Soniaji would be worried (and she would be giving our man Manmohan sleepless nights with all those inflationary 'love' letters), she knows it is very unlikely that the congress woudl get a majority of its own. They have no organization, no strategy and no ideology. They will tag along whoever gives them the largest bite. Unless of course, a god level spin doctor comes along. The congress destroyed UP, from the minority baiting Indira-Rajiv brigade to the alliance mongering congress of the 90's-00's. Salvation? unlikely.
3) S.P: The true survivors. They are perennially the pack of wolves that is being hunted down and they will do anything to survive. They would easily get the biggest share of the minority vote, if there is enough to woo the OBC's, despite the SC verdict and all our man Mulayam will once again be having the last laugh. Amitabh for president. Expect strong show.
4) B.S.P: "Hum jo bhi karenge, Bahujan samaj ke hith mein karenge", haanji--thats why we gave 35% of seats to the upper casts this time. Mayawati knows that its unlikely the OBC's will go away from her, so she is doing all she can to get a few bonus upper caste seats. Will it work? Only if she also manages to wrest a few minorities from our man Mulayam. If mulayam can overlook criminals so can she. Mayawatiji Manuvadi tatwo ke khilaph ladti rahengi. Success likely.
I expect a hung assembly as usual.