Lost in the crowd
Once a powerful man in the BSP,former family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha looked forlorn at the function organised to mark the fifth death anniversary of the partys founder Kanshiram on Sunday. After Chief Minister Mayawati went inside the Kanshiram memorial,Kushwaha positioned himself near the gate,apparently to catch her eyes on her way back. Mayawati did notice his presence,responded to his pranam with a quick nod,and left. Among those accompanying her was Kushwahas old rival PWD Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui and his MLC wife Husna Siddiqui. After they left,Kushwaha was lost in the crowd of reporters,photographers and hangers-on. On his side was his old associate and BSP MLA Ramchandra Pradhan. A few IAS officers and BSP leaders who saw them shook hands and left. Later,Kushwaha went inside and paid his respect at Kanshirams statue.
Anna Hazare may have decided to target the Congress but the BSP,unlike other opposition parties,is cautious. The Congress has been out of power in UP for long and it is the BSP which is under attack for corruption in the state. Therefore,BSP apprehends that Anna Hazares campaign against corruption may hurt the BSP more than the Congress in UP. There is also the fact that unlike other opposition leaders,Chief Minister Mayawati had never offered her unstinted support to Anna Hazare and his Jan Lokpal Bill. In fact,she had advised that instead of pushing his bill,Anna Hazare should mobilise public opinion,put up candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014,and then pass the kind of bill he wants. Insiders in the BSP say that before formulating her response to Anna Hazare,Mayawati wants to watch the voters response to his call to oppose the Congress in the by-election to Haryanas Hisar Lok Sabha seat.
Eying the top post
Senior BJP leader LK Advanis Jan Chetna Yatra is commonly seen as an attempt to project himself as the partys candidate for the prime ministers post in 2014. Party vice-president Kalraj Mishra,who is taking out one of the two Jan Swabhiman Yatras in UP,is a candidate for the state chief ministers post in the 2012 Assembly elections. But what is the aim of former chief minister and party president Rajnath Singh who will lead the other ‘Jan Swabhiman Yatra from Mathura? He has declared that he is not in the race for chief minister. His supporters say he only wants to strengthen the party in UP as he has been given the responsibility of the state. But Rajnath Singh has also been given the responsibility of neighbouring Uttarakhand where elections will be held with UP,but where he has not planned any yatra. A section in the BJP believes that Rajnath Singh is trying to strengthen his base in the state which sends the largest number of MPs because he also has his eyes on the PMs post. Unlike Advani and other claimants,however,he is keeping a low profile.
Poll math gone wrong
The ruling BSPs on-going drive to change its candidates in many constituencies has upset the Samajwadis Partys calculations. After the BSP announced its candidates,the SP had come under pressure from ticket aspirants for an early decision so that the candidates got enough time to prepare for the elections. In spite of Azam Khans suggestion to delay the announcement,the party went ahead and finalised the candidates. Now the BSP has changed its candidates in about 50 constituencies,many of them sitting MLAs who had become unpopular. This has drastically changed the political situation in many constituencies. The SP has,therefore,undertaken an exercise to review the scenario. Its problem is that any major changes in the list of candidates now will fuel dissension.
Farming to car racing
Much to the surprise of the state government,among the buyers of tickets for the first-ever Formula1 race of India,which is scheduled to take place in Greater Noida later this month,are many farmers of western UP. With satellite TV in every home,who can say that car racing hasnt caught the fancy of farmers? But the government is worried that there may be more to it than simple farmers developing an interest in an exotic sport. For,a group of them has announced an agitation over land acquisition-related grievances from October 23. Is there a connection? No one knows,except the farmers who have bought the tickets. Neither the government nor the organisers would like trouble at an event that will attracts motoring enthusiasts from across the world. But they cant deny entry to people who come with valid tickets. They are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping that there will be no spoilsports.