BSP chief Mayawati is trying desperately to consolidate the dalit-Muslim votebank in her favour.
New Delhi: While the fourth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh’s seven-phase election takes place on Thursday, no clear winner seems to have emerged, and there is already speculation of a hung Assembly.
Lack of clarity also seems to be forcing the BJP’s top leadership to raise the electoral pitch once again. On Wednesday, BJP chief Amit Shah likened the rival parties to the 26/11 terrorist, Ajmal Kasab.
“The people of Uttar Pradesh will rid themselves of this Kasab in this election. Don’t try to infer something else. By Kasab, I mean: Ka for Congress, Sa for Samajwadi Party and B for Bahujan Samaj Party,” Mr Shah said in Hindi.
Some saffron leaders felt that in the absence of a wave and a clear winner, the BJP “will have to play all its cards to secure an electoral victory in UP.”
Though the BJP, the SP-Congress alliance and the BSP have been claiming to emerge as the single-largest party, behind curtains tension has gripped leaders and functionaries of all the political parties. No one seems certain of a clear victory.
The BJP has gambled on the non-Jatav votebank, and unleashed hardcore Hindutva hawks to polarise the electorate. The SP-Congress alliance on the other hand is counting on Muslim-Yadav consolidation, and return of the upper caste votebank to the Congress.
Fighting back for her political survival, BSP chief Mayawati is trying desperately to consolidate the dalit-Muslim votebank in her favour.
Though Union home minister Rajnath Singh, while speaking to a TV channel during campaigning, made it clear that the BJP was “comfortably ahead” in the race, he said that the party would have “crossed 300 (seats in UP’s 403-member Assembly) if the SP and the Congress did not come together.”
The home minister’s remark indicates that the alliance did manage to dent the BJP’s prospects.
Mr Shah’s “Kasab” remark comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally said that the SP was providing burial grounds for Muslims in every village, while there were not enough cremation grounds. Mr Modi also went on suggest that the Akhilesh Yadav government was not supplying enough electricity to people on Diwali while providing it to Muslims during Ramazan.
The Congress yet again seized the opportunity and slammed the BJP chief for his “communal mindset”. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “BJP needs to end these acronyms. Its repulsive thinking has come out. It shows the party’s communal mindset.”
A senior BJP functionary revealed that the party was also hoping for a “reverse consolidation of Hindu votes, since both the SP and the BSP were playing the Muslim card.” Saffron strategists feel that the BJP “must not stop playing to the gallery of its core Hindutva votebank.”
Meanwhile, despite talks of a hung Assembly and possibilities of post-poll alliances, Mr Shah ruled out any post-poll alliance with the BSP. There has been speculation that in the absence of a clear mandate, both the BJP and the BSP could yet again join hands to form the government in Uttar Pradesh.
As the election is set to enter its fourth phase on Thursday the race is on for being the single-largest party. A BJP leader, who had been talking of 250 seats, changed his stance and told this newspaper that “any party getting 175 seats will be forming the government.” The requirement for a simple majority is 203.