Until the votes are counted,everybody is free to speculate. Officers on the fifth floor of the secretariat,which houses the chief ministers office,believe the BSP will emerge the single largest party,winning between 180 and 200 seats. Outside the fifth floor,however,most seem to smell a change in the political air. Many are busy reviving their old contacts in order to get into the Samajwadi Partys good books. Those regarded as favourites of the present government look anxious. Whenever some officers gather for a chat,the talk often veers round to who would get which department and who would be on the hit list of the new government. Officers who are considered pro-SP say that the government this time will be different from the past SP regimes. Netaji and other SP leaders are predictable,but no one has seen Akhilesh work,no one knows what will be his role, remarked an officer.
Most pollsters and political pundits have predicted SP emerging as the single largest party. Naturally,therefore,SP men are upbeat. They are talking of an outright victory and also their future plans. But none will say who will be the chief minister. Initially,Akhilesh Yadav was tipped to take over the reins if the party got a majority. However,Akhilesh himself stated that only Netaji will be the chief minister. For the young SP leaders who were,until some time ago,talking of Akhilesh as future CM,this is a piquant situation. Said one of them,We cannot say that Akhilesh should be CM. Nor can we say that Netaji should be CM; for,who knows he may opt out in favour of Akhilesh.
Batting for BJP
While campaigning in Pathardeva,BJP president Nitin Gadkari announced that Surya Pratap Shahi will wield power if the BJP won. After about a week,and a few days before the polling in Lucknow,former party president Rajnath Singh said in Lucknow that Kalraj Mishra,who is contesting from Lucknow East,will be the BJPs CM. After the polling in Lucknow got over,Gadkari went to Charkhari,from where Uma Bharti is contesting,and said UP will develop under the leadership of Umaji. Farmers will get water for irrigation and round-the-clock power supply. So who will actually become the BJPs chief minister? None,because BJP leaders admit in private that they will be happy if they beat the Congress. Apparently,the announcements were made in the hope that these will swing the votes in favour of these candidates.
Babu eyes R
All-powerful Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh,who is on a post-retirement extension,is reportedly trying for a berth in the Rajya Sabha. Sources in the BSP said whatever the election results,Singh will remain a confidante of Mayawati. After PWD Minister Naseemuddin Siddiquis indictment by the Lokayukta,the BSP president will need somebody untainted to assist,and Singh has handled many political assignments during the BSP regime. So,he may be sent to the Rajya Sabha when elections are held in April to fill 10 vacancies.
Film actress Nagma is reportedly unhappy with AICC spokesperson Rashid Alvi,who had accompanied her on election campaign in western UP. At a meeting in Bijnores Barhapur constituency,Congress candidate Hussain Ahmad Ansari recited a couplet in Nagmas praise. But Nagma thought the couplet was in bad taste and cheap,and made her displeasure clear by dubbing it nonsense. However,Alvi kept quiet. Sources said that Nagma later shared her bad experience with a top Congress leader and criticized Alvi for keeping mum. Belatedly,Alvi has lodged a complaint against the Congress candidate at the AICC.
There is no respite for any BSP leader from election duty even after the end of five phases of polling. Chief Minister Mayawati has moved her senior leaders to the states western parts,which are going to the polls in the sixth and seventh phases. For example,the teams of Allahabad and Mirzapur divisions have been moved to Mathura and Agra regions. Similarly,BSPs Bundelkhand team has moved to Bareilly and Ghaziabad. Their task is to remind farmers about the high price of sugarcane that was fixed by the BSP government. They are supposed to tell election gatherings that,as a result,farmers benefited to the extent of Rs 15,000 crore,while the last Mulayam Singh government could not ensure more than Rs 500 crore.