» Election » Diminished clout awaits Laloo and Mulayam in 15th Lok Sabha?

Diminished clout awaits Laloo and Mulayam in 15th Lok Sabha?

By Renu Mittal
May 02, 2009 23:17 IST
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The Yadavs stretching from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar are likely to meet their Waterloo in elections 2009, with the performance of both Mulayam and Laloo set to be well below par.

Surveys, reports and feedbacks from Uttar Pradesh suggests that the Samajwadi Party which had 39 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections is likely to get less than 20 seats with the Muslims backing off from supporting Mulayam and his men in the wake of his bonhomie between former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh.

Kalyan, a key accused in the Babri Masjid demolition, is seen as a symbol of all that the Bharatiya Janata Party stood for and this is said to be working against the Yadav leader. Pictures of Amar Singh touching Kalyan Singh's feet are being splashed all over the state and this is learnt to be worsening the damage.

While Mulayam is going down, all the other three parties in the state are on the upswing. UP CM and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is making gains but not the kind that was expected of her. The upper caste, particularly the Brahmins which had thrown thier lot behind the BSP in the last assembly polls appears to have had a rethink on the politics and ideology of the lady who rides the 'elephant.'

The Muslims are also tactically voting for her wherever they feel that her candidate is in a winning combination and can defeat the BJP. She may touch 30 seats but her dream of a one sided UP sweep, appears to be destined to remain a dream for now.

The BJP is also likely to make gains with the Brahmins, who were the key components when the saffron party swept UP, once again gravitating towards the Hindutva party. This time they may touch 15 seats with its alliance partner Ajit Singh getting a couple of seats.

But the real surprise in UP is turning out to be the 'underdog' Congress, which is in serious combat in more than 20 seats where it is expected to be either in the first or second position.

The Muslims are coming back to the Congress and in many seats even the upper caste combination is working for them. In seats where the Congress candidates had been working in the last couple of years, the party is harvesting the benefits of this.

In Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Party chief Laloo Prasad Yadav's magic appears to have hit a dead end.

He is being swept away by Bihar CM and Janata Dal-United Nitish Kumar's 'andhi' (storm) and is even finding it difficult to hold onto his two stronghold seats—which many Bihar leaders reckon is witnessing a touch-and-go situation.

While both the JD(U) of  Nitish Kumar and the BJP are set to do exceptionally well crossing 30 seats between them, the Congress which had 3 Members of Parliament is getting a huge response from the people. But there are serious doubts on whether this is being converted into victory margins in the current poll with analysts unsure of whether the Congress is part of any winning combination on any of the seats.

Whatever the Congress wins would be seen as a bonus, but no one is betting any money
on any Congress victories in the state. But the decision to go alone and sever ties with Laloo has managed to energise the Congress workers and laid the foundation of a future revival of the party in the state, say senior Congress leaders who are happy with the developments in Bihar.

Interestingly both the Yadavs were Congress allies. One of lone standing and the other a new found friend with whom the Congress has had a love-hate relationship. The Congress spurned the advances of both and decided to travel alone in UP and Bihar. With both performing below par, the loss is that of the United Progressive Alliance. But Congress leaders managing the elections see it differently.

"The writing on the wall was clear for some time. So the break gives us a chance to hunt for new friends to bring into the alliance, says a senior Congress leader.

The finger is obviously being pointed towards Nitish Kumar with whom the Congress has already sent feelers and received a positive response, reveal senior leaders. 

But it's not so easy. Nitish does not want to give up his state government which is dependent on the BJP support and the Congress does not have the numbers in the assembly to bail out the Nitish government. How and in what circumstances can Laloo Yadav be persuaded to support a Nitish government in Bihar continues to remain a matter of conjecture.

With the Congress working on retaining the number one tag, the game is wide open if that happens even as the Yadavs will have a much diminished clout in the 15th Lok Sabha.

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Renu Mittal

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