Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls this time witnessed a generation shift with many bigwigs including SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress boss Sonia Gandhi missing the campaign trail in the first two phases. Even as the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls are over and campaigning for the second phase is to end tomorrow, senior leaders synonymous with electoral politics in the state were nowhere to be seen. After the pre-poll alliance of Samajwadi Party and Congress, their leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi have bounced to the centrestage of campaigning. While Mulayam has kept himself away in the first two phases, Sonia Gandhi has also not joined campaign due to health reasons. After family tussle, SP leader Shivpal Yadav also chose not to campaign for the party and remained confined to his constituency Jaswant Nagar (Etawah).
During his campaigning, Shivpal showed his displeasure over the things going on in the party and even announced his decision to form a new party after March 11, the day of results of the UP Assembly elections are out. As a number of his supporters were denied tickets and his name was not included in the star campaigner list, Shivpal’s absence might create problems for some SP candidates. SP star campaigners in previous polls Amar Singh and Jaya Prada are also being missed in the campaigning this time as they are not “needed” by the party any longer, as an insider put it. Amar, as per the January 1 SP convention here, has been expelled from the party by Akhilesh and that could have kept him and Jaya away from the political scene.
Another senior SP leader and Rajya Sabha member Beni Prasad Verma is not seen campaigning as his son Rakesh Verma has been denied ticket from Ram Nagar seat of Barabanki. He is confining himself to Barabanki and not preferring to campaign outside. In BJP camp, senior leaders like L K Advani too have not addressed even a single meeting.
Bollywood star Shatrughan Sinha, who has campaigned in previous polls, is also missing from action. Former chief minister Kalyan Singh and former Assembly Speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi are nowhere in the political arena directly as they are holding gubernatorial post in Rajasthan and West Bengal respectively. Kalyan’s grandson, Sandeep, is contesting from Atrauli (Aligarh).