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Opposition focus on `lawlessness’

Monday 26 March 2007, by VYAS*Neena

BJP confident of bettering score in U.P.

Nithari murders have only reinforced the state of lawlessness Kurmi voters may back the BJP especially in the eastern region

NEW DELHI: The ground realities in Uttar Pradesh are changing fast. The parties counting on the anti-incumbency factor working strongly against the Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Government believe that with each passing day the SP is facing more problems.

As the SP, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress, the Jan Morcha and the conglomerate of Muslim leaders under one umbrella fight for the votes of the 15 to 18 per cent strong Muslim community, the Bharatiya Janata Party believes that this division in the minority votes would help it overcome the factor that has often led to its defeat — the strategic voting by Muslims with the primary aim to defeat it.

The shocking disclosures of child murders in Nithari have only helped to reinforce the claim of Mr. Singh’s political opponents that the law and order situation is worse than ever before. How far this affects polling remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that whether it is the BSP, the Congress or the BJP they will all make much of prevailing "lawlessness" and "lack of governance" to attack the ruling party.

The BJP is upbeat. After nearly a decade of going down hill with each successive election, for the first time it is confident of bettering its previous score of 80 plus seats. Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad pointed out that while the BJP has been able to stitch together an alliance with the Janata Dal (United) and the Apna Dal, it is the Apna Dal alliance that is exciting the BJP with the prospect of the considerable number of Kurmi voters backing the alliance, especially in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

The party expects this factor, together with the projection of Lodh leader Kalyan Singh as its chief ministerial candidate, to boost its support among backward castes other than the Yadavs, whose loyalty to the SP is showing no signs of wavering.

On the other side of the political divide the Congress has not been able to arrive at any significant seat-sharing arrangement. Earlier, it was expected that it would forge an alliance with V.P. Singh’s Jan Morcha and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal. But that has not happened. Instead, it has managed some limited understanding with Mahender Singh Tikait’s Bahujan Kisan Dal.

It is the BSP factor that the BJP fears the most. With BSP chief Mayawati giving the ticket to Brahmins in more than 80 seats, it fears that a good section of the Brahmin vote will be mopped up by the BSP. The BJP’s Hindutva plank and the dedicated help it is getting from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh cadre may not be able to help it retain its support among Brahmins.

As in the recent elections in Punjab and Uttarakhand, much will also depend on the ability of parties to keep the rebel factor down in their own outfits. The BJP benefited in the Punjab and Uttarakhand polls as it was able to minimise the vote-cutting effect of rebels. The Congress was able to do that less efficiently. Senior BJP leaders and the RSS functionaries deployed in Uttar Pradesh are earnestly engaged in persuading would-be rebels not to contest.

See online : The Hindu

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