On Saturday,Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav declared that he is not in the race for PM. Just a few hours before,he had sold a dream to his party’s youth brigade.

Follow the leader?
On Saturday,Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav declared that he is not in the race for PM. Just a few hours before,he had sold a dream to his party’s youth brigade. “(I K) Gujral became PM when he was not even a Lok Sabha member and Deve Gowda had only 14 MPs with him. Ensure the party’s victory on 50 seats in UP and it will be your government at the Centre,” Mulayam had stated. He also gave the youths some tips for career growth. “Identify one constituency for yourself. Use this election as an opportunity to start working in the constituency. You will automatically become a strong contender for the seat in the next election,” he said. Speeches over,the informal discussion among the youth brigade turned to Netaji’s advice. “What great work did Akhilesh and Dharmendra (Mulayam’s son and nephew) do?’’ whispered one. Everyone kept quiet. They knew the answer. Akhilesh has been fielded from Ferozabad and Dharmendra from Badayun,not because they nursed these constituencies,but as both are known Yadav strongholds.

Friendly fire?
The idea of “friendly fights’’,floated by the Congress in their alliance with the Samajwadi Party,has clearly boomeranged. Senior Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh had stated that they would accept an offer of 17 seats,if the SP agreed on “friendly fights’’ on seven or eight. But the two parties got locked in a game of brinkmanship,leading to a situation where the SP has fielded candidates on 73 seats,including those which the Congress had won in 2004. For its part,the Congress is preparing a second list of about 15 candidates,after the 24 it had announced earlier. The upshot is that the Congress and SP will end up having “friendly fights’’ on over 20 seats. The BSP couldn’t be happier. Hadn’t the Congressmen heard of the law of unintended consequences?

After he was denied a ticket for the Pratapgarh seat,BSP leader C N Singh met almost every senior leader of the party — from Mayawati’s blue-eyed boy Babu Singh Kushwaha to Satish Chandra Mishra’s favourites Brajesh Pathak and Anant Mishra — to request them to persuade Behanji to reconsider his name. The BSP had started projecting Singh as the party candidate for Pratapgarh over two years ago. Later,when the Congress and the Samajwadi Party also selected Thakur candidates,the BSP decided to reconsider its options. In a re-examination of the caste composition of the constituency,it turned out that Singh had tried to build up his case by inflating the number of Thakur voters by about 60,000. And he himself had compiled the figures when the party asked him to prepare a caste-wise break-up of voters in the constituency. In fact,this was the first task he was given by the party. In the words of a BSP leader,“He failed to clear the preliminary test,and he paid for it.’’

Marching tune
Congressmen seem to have woken up to the Oscar winning song “Jai ho” after the party bought its copyright. Even the veterans are downloading the song as their ring tone and caller tune,often with help from the tech-savvy younger colleagues. And they are particular that it is the original song,not the modified version used for the party’s publicity. Everyone seems to be keen to download it. “We are spreading the word around that every party worker should have the song on their phone so that a Congressman could be identified in a crowd,” explained a leader.


Clear the stage
Lately,Amar Singh seems to have been gripped by “stage fright”. It was in evidence when he addressed a gathering in the city on Sunday. As he spoke,he kept an anxious watch on the people who kept climbing onto the stage in twos and threes. What was worrying him? Was he trying to spot mischief mongers? Then,Singh stopped mid-sentence. He asked the security personnel to clear the stage,explaining: “Twice recently,the stage collapsed when I was addressing the people. The plaster from the last incident is still there on my leg. Looks like it is going to happen for the third time here,so please ask these people to step off the stage.” The stage was promptly cleared,and Amar Singh was back to his usual oratory.

Size matters
The magic of seniormost BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee is accepted by all. When Lalji Tandon was declared the BJP candidate,he said he has brought Vajpayee’s “khadauns” and would enter the fray with the grand old man’s blessings (not that Tandon is much younger). Earlier,Samajwadi Party candidate Sanjay Dutt had said he would not contest against Vajpayee. Now,Dutt too says he would keep Vajpayee’s khadauns. So far,Vajpayee has kept silent. But both Tandon and Dutt may find that Vajpayee’s khadauns are too big for their comfort.

No option
Last year,the government demolished the Gomti Nagar stadium overnight to expand the Ambedkar Memorial,but hasn’t bothered to create alternative facilities for various sports. Take,for example,tennis. There is now no place in the city to hold a major event,although smaller events can be held at the Tennis Academy of the Sports Development Society,which is located inside the UP Badminton Academy premises. The first Under-14 Asian Ranking Tennis Championship will be held there from April 6 to 11. CP Kacker,honorary secretary of the UP Tennis Association,said: “We have so far organised five junior-level AITA tourneys,besides an all-India men’s open tennis tournament at SDS Tennis Academy. But the Gomti Nagar Stadium was a better venue; it had two synthetic courts and four hard courts,which also could be converted into synthetic ones,while this venue has only three synthetic courts. The stadium’s demolition was a big blow.” Is the government listening?