The scorching summer heat is becoming unbearable all over UP. The popular perception of an almost certain hung assembly has taken away much of the excitement for the average voter.
No spectacular development has taken place in the state. The public is bored stiff. The ritual election will only provide some tamasha value to the public.
In disgust, most voters bemoan, 'Sab saale chor hain! Kya farak padega? Koi ek bhi party doodh ki dhuli hui nahin hai! Sabhine goondon ko badhaava diya hai! (Everyone is a thief, what's the point? Not one party is clean. Everyone has supported goondas). Be that as it may.
The 2007 UP assembly election shall create a record of sorts. It will be relatively the freest and fair election ever held in turbulent Uttar Pradesh [ Images ]. That is a certainty.
The election -- for the first time -- will test the leadership capabilities of political leaders more than the strength of the parties they lead. Voters will vote for or against a leader. Hence, the leader's personality is important.
More important shall be the average man in the street, and his perception of every leader's personality and his/her performance!
For example, for Mayawati [ Images ], strong administrator-cum leader. Not simply for the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Against Moolahyumm Singh Yadav and the gooonda raaj his party nurtured. And so on, so forth.
The anti-incumbency vote is an understatement. It is a worn out cliche. It would be more accurate to label it 'Moolahyumm rage'.
Any leader who can win a majority in this cut-throat battle for the ballot will indeed deserve credit.
There is no party manifesto worth the name. There is no ideology. Ideals are damned. There is no norm or ethic of politics left unmolested. Party loyalty is unheard of, and there is a shameless stampede for power, pelf and profits.
Some of the political aspirants have set new parameters for ruthless and shameless norms to get tickets and to somehow get elected.
Rebels like Beni Prasad Verma of the Samajwadi Party and Yogi Adityanath of the BJP will cause untold misery and sleepless nights to their party leaders.
Switching party loyalties has reduced the sacrosanct party system to a cruel farce.
The high ideals and expectations of our Founding Fathers have been contemptuously and brazenly thrown to the winds.
It is not simply the criminalisation of individual politicians that is cause for alarm.
What is deplorable and dangerous is that the leading national political parties have themselves become criminalised and their very ethics have become doubtful.
This is a very grave and urgent matter for all the political parties to ponder over. And to act quickly to stem the rot.
The Congress party has a long history. It being a political party made up only of leaders, this tottering old party has no workers/followers. Because they are all born leaders.
Take the case of Rahul Gandhi [ Images ].
The satta-ki-kursi ko laat marnewali mother needs to justify her nepotism. Can she with transparent honesty make public the panel her national party scrutinised before finalising the choice of her Yuvraj? Crooks of all age groups in the decaying Congress party have started enthusiastically hailing Rahulji as their leader. That his road shows are drawing amused crowds all over is beside the point.
Presently, the party's leadership quality seems to be sliding with decreasing marginal returns. At the same time, the public's inclination towards this party grows. Strange. Inexplicable.
Maybe the recent disenchantment of the public with the other parties and their leaders seems to be whetting the public's appetite to try and taste something different. Lucky Congress.
The Congress party leadership and cadres in UP are otherwise in a shambles. If only Priyanka Vadra [ Images ] were to step in and pick up the gauntlet and take the plunge full-time! The UP rustics enjoy her wayside gimmicks a lot, even as they nostalgically compare her with her grandmother, Indira Gandhi.
Priyanka, youthful, charismatic and cunning as ever, can be the only real challenge to anyone she picks to fight against, to prove her leadership. And that includes Atal Bihari Vajpayee [ Images ], the MP from Lucknow [ Images ].
Sonia seems to have reserved this prizefighter for the real war for the parliamentary election 2009. After all, the 2007 UP assembly election is merely a rehearsal, isn't it?
All the other dwarfs and pygmies strutting about as Congress leaders just do not matter when it comes to winning votes.
Their party's interests have been mortgaged to Moolahyumm Singh. In exchange for petty personal gains in power and pelf, postings and transfers, small doles and plots in Noida and elsewhere, these parasites have let their Congress down.
One Congress leader of sorts pompously confided that "As long as the party continues to remain weak and leaderless, we retain our importance as state-level Congress leaders. If the party becomes stronger with more and better winners, then who will give us the importance that we presently enjoy in the Delhi [ Images ] Darbar"!
God save the Congress that is forced to retain such callous and greedy leaders sans any commitment whatsoever.
The public is otherwise so fed up in UP that it is, at times, looking towards even this decrepit Congress party in the fond hope of some relief.
Its vote share will definitely increase. But the number of seats may not increase beyond 50.
The Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] also has become a party of too many leaders. They have neglected honouring their promises (remember their proclamation to build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya?). Therefore, the party has lost all the faith, confidence, trust and credibility, which the average Hindu voter had reposed in it.
However, the BJP leaders have not given up their ambitions.
The recent Punjab [ Images ] and Uttaranchal flukes have come as undeserved successes. The hallucination about the BJP's real strength will be tested and possibly blasted by the unforgiving UP voter. VHP firebrand Mahant Adityanath and even the sober Mahant Avaidyanath are already disgusted. Their followers are restless, and are bent upon 'teaching the BJP's anti-Hindutva traitors a lesson.'
The loss will be significant, in spite of Ashok Singhal's desperate patch-up bid.
The other state-level leaders -- they all want to come back to power -- are riding their own little caste bandwagons.
Rajnath Singh has not been able to grow out of his Thakurwaadi image, though he has been made the BJP's national president.
Suppose Mayawati, Rajnath's bete noire, refuses to join hands with the BJP for a coalition government. (There are strong chances of this happening.) Even then, the wily and calculating Thakur has little to lose. Because, will not all his erstwhile rivals (Kalyan Singh [ Images ], Kalraj Mishra, Kesrinath Tripathi, Lalji Tandon, etc) have to sit in the Opposition, bereft of all power and nuisance to him. In a way, cut to size, you know. As these leaders shrivel and shrink in stature in UP, Rajnath Singh happily continues to stride the national scene.
Former chief minister Kalyan Singh has nursed his Lodh Rajput vote-bank intact. He keeps fretting and fuming at Rajnath Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but slinks into silence in the name of party discipline.
Kalyan Singh dare not rebel as he has nowhere else to turn.
This time UP Brahmins will prefer power sharing with Mayawati rather than waste their votes on the BJP and support Kalyan Singh who in any case will sit in the Opposition. He shall remain the BJP's 'chief minister-in-waiting.'
This, despite Moolahyumm Singh's CM-ship bait to Kalyan, his backward bhai, if only to keep Mayawati out of power at all cost.
Kalraj Mishra is a spent force. This ex-president of the state unit today cannot win even a gram sabha election on his own.
His enthusiasm for genuine party work and activating ragtag Brahmin workers has waned ever since his archrival Thakur Rajnath Singh has been anointed national president. If the BJP joins a coalition government, this Brahmin's seniority will ensure a cabinet berth in any case. So why venture out in the uncomfortable summer heat?
Kesrinath Tripathi, the poet/politician, is Moolahyumm Singh and Amar Singh [ Images ]'s supporter in the UP assembly and has done more for the SP's survival than anyone else. Brahmins have stopped heeding his advice. He has lost his credibility. Maybe his seat this time. Imagine the BJP president losing in UP.
Lalji Tandon has the damaging potential of an effective joker in an exciting game of cards. He is Atalji's Man Friday for UP affairs. He is the man who knows too much. Snatching Atalji's clandestine blessings, he will spring a surprise on everyone including the party's declared 'chief minister-in-waiting' Kalyan Singh.
In private, Lalji keeps fretting and fuming about Mayawati, but he is helpless to do anything against her growing importance and vote-bank. He is the BJP's comical cat's paw and struts around as the rakhi bhai of the mercurial behenji. Yes, he is looking forward to a berth in her cabinet of ministers as deputy chief minister in a possible BSP-BJP coalition government headed by his behenji.
Clever Lalji has also maintained cordial and fruitful terms with Moolahyumm Singh. Just in case...
His arms will also remain open just in case friend Moolahyumm offers a clandestine SP tie-up to share power with the BJP. Why?
Of course, to keep Moolahyumm's old rival Mayawati out of power!
Not for nothing has good ol' Lalji earned a nickname which is a play on his first name. What are honesty, self-respect and pride worth in politics? Power is everything.
His faux pas on the CD will cause a lot of confusion and chaos. That is, if communal riots don't break out for the polarisation of voters in UP. Let us all pray for peaceful elections. Whether the SP and the BJP election managers wish it or not.
Vinay Katiyar is the other leader who has invariably put his foot in his mouth. He has already started appeasing Hindus with the promise of making the Surya Namaskar and Vande Mataram compulsory in schools. Yes, trying to polarise Hindus and Muslims. He is in the leader's chair only when he is allowed to sit on it. Else, he is a washout.
The RSS and VHP cadres are likely to put in efforts and whatever marginal gains the BJP may try to muster will be due to their efforts.
The nameless, self-effacing, dedicated worker who retains his faith in the genuineness of the claims for Hindutva and Hindu causes espoused by the BJP leadership. These guys will have to really slog very hard in the hot summer to undo the damage done by Yogi's tantalising jolt to the BJP.
The BJP's brand ambassadors from Delhi are of little value. Venkaiah Naidu cannot speak good broken Hindi, and he is in charge of winning voters in the Hindi heartland! Making faces and pontificating on television cannot fool the UP voter. Sensing trouble, the shrewd Arun Jaitley [ Images ] and charismatic Sushma Swaraj [ Images ] are wisely lying low. The failure-flak will be reserved for 'friend' Rajnath!
The Rashtriya Lok Dal's Ajit Singh nurses secret dreams/ambitions of playing a key role in the balancing act, just in case... Some sort of a compromise chief minister, if you please! Political ideology etc are alien to this lucky son of a great leader. His party has no credible manifesto. He can cook up one at the drop of a hat, if the need arises.
Ajit Singh's honest father, poor Chaudhary Charan Singh, must be writhing in his grave in disappointment and anguish.
This time, the most prescient Jats seem to have seen through Ajit's usual opportunistic game. They are, now, veering in favour of the honest farmer/leader Mahendra Singh Tikait.
This masterstroke has been pulled off by Dr U P Singh, an experienced and able lieutenant of the grass-root Congress politician, the late Veer Bahadur Singh.
Moolahyumm Singh has already lost!
The Samajwadi Party is Moolahyumm Singh. No one else matters. Not even Amar Singh. Brother Shiv Pal Singh Yadav is a distinct liability.
There are no other genuine mass leaders. The cadres have become demoralised and aimless.
Moolahyumm has been caught up in a dangerously engulfing whirlpool, which will certainly drown this wrestler from the Etawah ravines.
The internecine war over spoils etc between his beloved son Akhilesh and the beloved's son Prateek has shattered his moral authority. Both these 'brothers' are at daggers drawn. Their patience bubble can burst any day!
This time, even the sacred Hanuman [ Images ] Chalisa, which the secular Moolahyumm Singh religiously/regularly/desperately recites nowadays, shall not come to his rescue.
The cesspool of crime, casteism, and corruption stinks sky-high for all of Uttar Pradesh. Except, of course, for those blind loyalists.
The heavenly stars have cursed him. It seems Rahu, Saturn, Mars [ Images ] are all collectively conspiring to ruin this man. His sankat is genuine, and menacing.
She has threatened to put him and his friends behind bars.
The CEC and CRPF stars will rise to the occasion and hammer the last nail in his party's coffin.
Poor Moolahyumm Singh Yadav!
Mayawati is the only winner, come vote May!
Her sheer tenacity of purpose in pursuit of power has to be seen/felt to be believed.
This Robertina Bruce has once again bounced back to power. Have no doubts no this score.
Imagine a Dalit abala naari single-handedly fighting Moolahyumm Singh, the BJP star brigade, and the 120-year-old Congress party led by the great Sonia and Rahul. Today, she is the darling behenji of the masses, including the Dalits.
This leader has organised/galvanised the Bahujan Samaj Party single-handedly, putting the lucky and 'mighty' VGM Sonia Gandhi to shame.
Her administrative capacity singles her out as perhaps the best chief minister who can be elected for the benefit of the the weak, poor, and helpless masses of all shades in UP.
She is an able administrator first. This is an often over-looked but important trait of hers.
Only after that comes the fact that she happens to be in politics for power. She delivers results. At least, that is the average common man's perception, whatever maybe the grim ground reality. And, the actual truth.
Moolahyumm's recent tenure, replete with misrule and atrocities, garnished with corruption and goondagiri has hastened/facilitated her recent 'negative-image' reversal. Unwittingly, his brother Shivpal Singh has paved the way for her Elephant's ride back to power.
Forget the Indian Express and the Week surveys. Switch off Sahara Samay Samachar which does not reflect the ground reality.
Mayawati has won and will be sworn in as chief minister for the record-making fourth time! Make no mistake.
She is the one and only successful leader par excellence in Uttar Pradesh today.
The Elephant (the BSP electoral symbol)is bound to head towards New Delhi!
Also, to thank Sonia Gandhi's Congress.
Obviously, for strengthening the CEC who, in turn, has facilitated Mayawati's stride towards victory. She may graciously offer to throw a few crumbs to the tricolour-gamchha flaunting minions in exchange for some respite from the CBI.
Is baar, Uttar Pradesh mein vote ka jhatka lagega... dheere se! Maano, yaa naa maano (This time, the impact of the vote will be felt in UP, but slowly!Believe it or not.
The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on...
Please re-read this piece on May 11 when the UP assembly election results pour in!