The Trinamool Congresss efforts to wrest a toehold in Uttar Pradesh seem to have failed even before the fight has begun. Most of its candidates have not even filed their nominations.
While only 20 of the 49 candidates filed nominations in the first phase of the polls,things got worse in the second and third phases,with only 14 and 19 nominees,respectively, filing their papers.
The numbers have gone up in the fourth phase as 30 candidates have decided to contest,but this would hardly save the partys sinking plan to contest around 200 seats.
The nominees,Trinamool insiders said,are backing out because Mamata Banerjee,the partys chief and only national face,is not showing much interest in the campaign,making it hard for them to anchor their campaign around a leader in the fashion of a Mayawati,Mulayam Singh Yadav or Rahul Gandhi.
Rai Singh,Trinamools UP convener,is getting frenetic calls from candidates seeking clarity about the partys stand. There is a paucity of campaign literaturemanifestos,leaflets etcwhich the state unit is unable to address since they are to be supplied from Kolkata. Grassroots workers are now complaining that the party did not assess the requirements well before jumping into the fray.
I have requested Mamata Banerjees presence in UP countless times but there is no response, Singh said.
But there is hope yet,Trinamool leaders believe. Mamata is arriving in Delhi in the last week of February to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and they hope to convince her to go to UP from there.