Twelve districts go to the polls tomorrow for the third phase of the UP polls. These districts include Lucknow, but some of the Central UP districts that are home to the SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. The SP won big in this region in 2012, bagging 55 seats, against 6 for the BSP, 5 for the BJP and 2 for Congress. It is unclear whether the Party will perform as well as it did 5 years ago, given the family feud within the Yadav clan. It is also unclear whether the SP will benefit from its alliance with Congress. The Congress strategy is reminiscent of its alliance with Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar in 2015. But the Congress in UP got an even better deal, 25% of the seats (105) in the seat-sharing agreement. The Congress is no longer a major player in UP, but Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi have been very involved in this campaign. Priyanka Gandhi yesterday took a swipe at Narendra Modi for being an outsider in UP, saying that UP would choose one of theirs (read Akhilesh or the Gandhis, whose connection to UP remains tenuous, to be tenuous).
In the meantime, Amit Shah, never short of promises, promises UP rivers of milk and dahin [yogurt] if the BJP wins. And Mayawati lashes out at her Modi, calling him Akhilesh’s ‘chacha.’
I can’t help but wonder really how Mayawati is campaigning this time in UP. Her office and residence in Mall Avenue are oddly quiet, and she does not seem to have a strong media presence (unlike the BJP and SP, whose billboards are for everyone to see in Lucknow).