Politically vital, U.P. has thrown up many a prime
ministerial candidate given the maximum share of Parliament seats
allocated in the Lok Sabha (currently 80).
After consolidating in U.P., Bahujan Samaj Party leader Chief Minister
Mayawati dubbed the “Scheduled Caste Queen,” has initiated the process of making
her presence felt in other states.
Her unique social engineering has broadened the base of her vote bank
to include upper castes as well as millions of SC/STs, OBCs and Minorities have-nots
who face economic, social and religious oppression even in matters as
simple as using a common well or praying in temples.
Mayawati’s antecedents can be traced to a Scheduled Caste family of nine children, living in a state of “absolute nothing.”
Many believe her political momentum could win her a good number of
seats in the general elections which would usher in a revolution with
India’s first Scheduled Caste prime minister.
Her popularity could gain her enough leverage, catapulting her to the top job.
Mayawati’s public visibility has been quite remarkable as she has gone
about appointing technocrats, cracking down against crime, inaugurating
India’s biggest highway projects, parks and statues celebrating her
party and publishing her autobiography. She has been applauded for administering the state with a blatant authoritarian
stick, while others have been peeved by what they consider to be her
megalomaniacal tendencies, but for her besotted supporters, who easily
run into the tens of millions, she remains their beloved bahenji.
In UP, where regional caste aspirations, sleaze and scandal long
have been a part of the political culture, Mayawati’s ambition could
transcend the misgivings about her and translate into rule from the
BHUBANESWAR - Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president and Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister Mayawati kicked off her party’s election campaign in
Orissa Tuesday amid a gathering of thousands.
Addressing a public meeting at Sambalpur town, some 317 km from
here, the BSP leader accused the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) of ignoring the plight of the poor and downtrodden.
‘These parties spend huge money in their campaign and the funds come
to them from the rich and the capitalists,’ the prime ministerial
Describing the BSP as the only party that takes care of all sections
of people, she said it has grown with the funds garnered by its workers
and common people.
Orissa will go to the polls in two phases - April 16 and April 23 -
to elect 147 members to the state assembly and 21 members to the Lok
Bhopal, March 31 (IANS) Economic recession coupled
with the 2008 assembly elections has left Madhya Pradesh’s ruling
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) short of funds. The Congress is not so
worried because its resources come from its national headquarters.
While the Congress has asked its state unit to focus on the campaign
rather than worry about money, the BJP here has also to mobilise
resources apart from votes.
“Recession has badly affected fund collection since most financiers,
a majority of whom are local industrialists, are not able to contribute
as they have done earlier,” said state BJP treasurer Ram Gupta.
Gupta told IANS: “The reason is simple. Their business has suffered
due to the economic slowdown in the past six months or so. They are
more busy in maintaining their market reputation than giving funds to
The state Congress is not as worried.
“Slowdown is everywhere but in our case it is the AICC (All India
Congress Committee) that will be taking care of this problem. We are
simply concerned with creating a network and the strategy to beat the
BJP,” said Madhya Pradesh Congress treasurer N.P. Prajapati.
“Though there is recession, it has also given a good excuse to many
industrialists to avoid political funding,” a former spokesman of the
The one party which is not bothered by the funds crunch is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
“Why should we bother about funds? Our workers contribute
substantially. We do not contest with the funds of industrialists and
businessmen,” says BSP’s state election in-charge Rajaram.
Shimla: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief
Mayawati will start her party’s Lok Sabha election campaign in Himachal
Pradesh with a rally at Una town on Thursday.
BSP Shimla district president K.C. Bhatia told said on Wednesday
that Ms. Mayawati would also officially announce the party candidates
for all the four seats in the State. The hill state has four Lok Sabha
seats - Shimla (SC- reserved), Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra - and will go
to polls May 13. IANS
Mayawati was addressing a poll rally here, two days after Advani asked
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise at the G-20 summit the issue of
Indian money stashed in foreign banks.
Rather than demand formulation of a law for bringing back black
money just before the country goes to polls, Mayawati said, Advani
should have done something about it during the BJP-led National
Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Addressing the rally at the Kankaria Football Ground in Maninagar to
kick off the BSP’s Lok Sabha poll campaign in Gujarat, Mayawati said
the BJP is the cousin of the Congress and both parties are responsible
for India’s current economic woes.
‘Both the BJP and Congress have framed economic policies dictated by
the wealthy and even polls are contested on the wishes of the rich in
the country,’ said the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.
She said the poor in the country are becoming terrorists because of
the faulty economic policies framed during the NDA and later during the
Parties in Uttar Pradesh welcome SC denial to Sanjay Dutt
“Our party knew the fate of Sanjay Dutt,” BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra told reporters.
Asked whether BSP will get any advantage on the Lucknow seat as Dutt
would not contest the elections now, Mishra said: “If the SP candidate
would have fought the election from here, he would have not made any
impact on the BSP.”
“If Dutt would have even contested the elections, he would not have
got much votes due to his shady past,” BJP state unit spokesperson H.N.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh said: “We hail
the apex court’s order and are now planning to field our candidate for
the prestigious Lucknow seat.”
Population: 166 million
Once a Congress Party stronghold, India’s most populous state is now
dominated by two caste-based parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led
by Dalit (formerly untouchable) leader Mayawati, and the Samajwadi
Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav, which draws support from lower
castes and Muslims. The two parties won 54 seats between them in 2004,
while Congress and the BJP won 19 between them.
Acute poverty, rising crime, poor infrastructure and abysmal
healthcare are the biggest problems in the state, often referred to as
India’s Hindi heartland.
Mayawati’s BSP is looking to repeat its sweeping victory in 2007
state elections. It has assiduously cultivated upper-caste Hindus to
refashion itself as a rainbow coalition of high and low castes.
Mayawati has ambitions to become a pan-Indian leader and could be a
crucial player in coalition negotiations once the votes are counted. It
is even possible she could emerge as prime minister at the head of a
Third Front of communist and left-wing parties.
Population: 82 million
Bihar is renowned as one of India’s poorest and most lawless states.
Two regional parties - the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata
Dal United (JDU) - dominate the political landscape. Both have links
with the country’s main political parties, the RJD with Congress, and
the JDU with the BJP.
In 2004, the RJD, led by the flamboyant Laloo Yadav, picked up more
than half of the state’s seats, while the JDU managed only six. Mr
Yadav went on to become railway minister in the Congress-led
government. He has been credited with turning around India’s ailing
But the tables have turned since 2004. The JDU and BJP swept state
polls in 2005, with JDU leader Nitish Kumar cashing in on popular
disenchantment with the RJD government and the deteriorating law and
order situation. Analysts say the JDU-BJP alliance has a good chance of
picking up more seats than the RJD-Congress in the forthcoming national
Bihar needs to catch up with the rest of India - and jobs, development, infrastructure and security are what its voters demand.
Population: 62 million
One of India’s most economically developed states - and one of its
most politically volatile. Known as India’s Detroit for its car making,
it also has a strong services sector and a booming film industry.
The main contest will be between two of India’s most powerful
regional parties, the DMK and the AIADMK. Since the 1960s, regional
parties have tapped into nascent Tamil nationalism and lower caste
M Karunanidhi, an astute scriptwriter, heads the DMK, which governs
the state. Pitted against him is a controversial former actress, the
feisty J Jayalalitha, who leads the AIADMK. The dominance of these two
personality-driven parties is so great that no national party has been
able to make substantial political headway in Tamil Nadu in the last
In 2004 the DMK coalition swept every seat. But Tamil Nadu is
considered a swing state. Whoever wins there is likely to play an
important role in the forming of India’s new coalition government.
Population: 75 million
Andhra Pradesh is marked by extreme affluence - there are vast farms
and a burgeoning info-tech and services industry - and desperate
poverty. The state also faces a separatist movement in the
poverty-ridden Telangana region.
State and federal elections are both taking place here, with a keen
contest in prospect between the ruling Congress Party and the main
opposition alliance, led by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with the
support of the communists.
Andhra Pradesh was a Congress stronghold until the TDP emerged in
the 1980s. In 2004, a Congress-led alliance swept the polls, winning 37
seats. Five years earlier an alliance between the TDP and the BJP had
Congress is banking this time on schemes like cheap rice, free
electricity for farmers, free health cover for poor families and cheap
loans for women.
Meanwhile, Chandrababu Naidu, the TDP leader hailed in the West as a
mascot of economic reforms, is promising free electricity and
television sets and unemployment benefit.
Population: 37 million
State and general elections are both likely to be three-sided
contests, following a split in March between the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)
and the BJP - former allies who governed the state together.
Both will now fight each other as well as Congress, the main opposition in the state.
The BJD hopes to win voter support with recently introduced
measures, including cheap rice for the poor, better pay for government
employees and better pensions for the elderly.
Congress says it will focus its campaign on calls to eliminate
corruption, which it says has escalated over the last nine years. The
BJP says the deterioration of law and order will be one of its election
Analysts says the state could be heading for a hung assembly.
Congress should in theory benefit from the BJD-BJP split, but it may
not be able to emerge as a clear winner.
Orissa is no stranger to hung assemblies and has had them regularly since the 1950s.
Population: 96 million
After last November’s attacks in Mumbai, security is a key issue in this state, which is home to India’s financial capital.
The Congress Party’s Vilasrao Deshmukh had to resign as chief
minister in Maharashtra - along with deputy RR Patil - for perceived
failures over the Mumbai attacks. It has formed a pre-poll alliance and
seat-sharing pact with the Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar.
The head of the right-wing Hindu Shiv Sena party, Bal Thackeray, has
been ill and has made few public appearances. His nephew, Raj
Thackeray, meanwhile, has formed a new party, the Maharashtra
Navnirmaan Sena, along similar right-wing nationalist lines but is
unlikely to make a big impact at national level.
The BJP is likely to focus on security, and the suicide rate among farmers suffering financial difficulties.
A critical shortage of electricity - with cuts ranging from four to
16 hours a day in most parts of the state - is also among voters’ major
Population: 80 million
A left-wing coalition has governed the state for more than three
decades. The left won 35 parliamentary seats in West Bengal in the 2004
elections, with Congress winning six and the Trinamul Congress one.
But the opposition parties are upbeat about how they will perform this time and are expecting to make major gains.
But now it seems the left is in trouble. The once-loyal rural poor
have turned against Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, as he pushes
ahead with his plans to acquire farmland for big industrial projects.
The opposition, especially the Trinamul Congress - a party specific
to West Bengal - have joined protests against large-scale land
But Mr Bhattacharya insists that West Bengal must rapidly
industrialise in order to provide jobs for millions of unemployed men
“The iron discipline of the left is wilting after three decades in
power. This election will be a real wake-up call for them,” says
political analyst Basu Ray Chaudhuri.
Population: 51 million
Congress campaigned hard in Gujarat’s state elections in 2007, but
still lost to the BJP, allowing the controversial Narendra Modi to
become chief minister for the third time in a row.
Mr Modi won the 2002 election on a Hindu nationalist platform
shortly after the massacre of some 1,000 Muslims in Gujarat. In 2007,
he toned down his nationalist rhetoric and campaigned on his economic
record - the state’s economy has been growing roughly 10% per year,
above the national average.
Mr Modi appointed a Muslim as the state’s police chief in February,
in what analysts see as an attempt to court a secular image. But the
arrest and resignation of the state’s education minister on 27 March,
in connection with the 2002 riots, is seen as a major embarrassment for
Mr Modi is considered a possible successor to the ageing BJP leader
LK Advani and will be hitting the campaign trail in other parts of
16 April: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu and
Kashmir, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland,
Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andaman and Nicobar
Total constituencies: 124
22 April: Manipur
23 April: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir,
Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh,
Total constituencies: 141
30 April: Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar
Pradesh, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Sikkim, Dadar and
Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu
Total constituencies: 107
7 May: Bihar, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi
Total constituencies: 85
13 May: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu,
West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Pondicherry, Uttar Pradesh
Total constituencies: 86