A senior bureaucrat gives a tweak to his handlebar moustache; takes a sip of whiskey and says winning Uttar Pradesh is important for all political parties. You heard so much of cacophony during elections only because political parties know this time that whosoever wins Uttar Pradesh will rule Centre.

It is a statement of fact which this almost-drunk bureaucrat made in his half senses. “In last two elections of 2004 and 2009 Uttar Pradesh did not have its say in Government formation but time has changed now. Mark my word, if BJP wins 40 plus seats from here, you will see a stable NDA Government,” the official said.

Bureaucrats, considered political weathercocks, predict domination of BJP in this Lok Sabha election because of projection of Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate.  It is believed that Modi’s name has given a new lease of life to the otherwise moribund BJP. The words have started spreading across political spectrum that results of Lok Sabha elections will have an impact on Akhilesh Yadav Government’s longevity.  The bureaucrats even predict change in Chief Minister if SP does not do well, though it is believed that Samajwadi Party might not retain its last year’s figure of 21.

There are many indicators to suggest that this time Uttar Pradesh is bound to throw many surprises. It started with the increase in almost 10-12 per cent in polling as compared to 2009 polls. Lucknow recorded polling percentage of 56 per cent – which is best in last four decades. Will BJP gain out of this high percentage of polling can be known only on May 16 but one thing is sure that if the party needs to win 40 plus seats its vote share should go above 34 per cent – double than 2009.

Every nook and cornor of Uttar Pradesh has now a stamp of Narendra Modi. He single handedly carried out BJP campaign and addressed 79 election meetings and covered 39,000 km in just over one month. Besides he had addressed seven Vijay Shankhnaad rallies. He even addressed people in 70 constituencies through 3D Hollograph and participated in discussion with people on Chai pe Charcha at 75 places in 70 constituencies.

Even to bolster his pan-Indian image he decided to contest from Varanasi thus sending the message loud and clear that this man from Gujarat is not hesitant to adopt Uttar Pradesh as his karmabhoomi .  To counter this influence Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav too is contesting from two seats – in Mainpuri in central Uttar Pradesh and Azamgarh in eastern Uttar Pradesh. By doing so he has tried to send message across his voters that only Samajwadi Party has the potential to stop the onward march of Modi in UP.

When all political parties have their strategies ready, ironically, it is the Congress that seems to have got all its calculations wrong. In less than a week’s time the Congress will realize whether there was any dividend in dispatching Rahul as the party’s mascot in this crucial election. But if his flip-flops and the almost apologetic explanations of his partymen are any indication, the move may have already backfired. In trying to please everyone, the Congress may have ended up pleasing none.

In a state where caste is the dominating factor BSP’s Mayawati played dalit card and time and again questioned Modi’s claim of being backward.In the absence of well-defined data, a rough estimate of Uttar Pradesh’s caste combination goes thus: Backward classes comprise 52 per cent (as per the Mandal report), Dalits log up to 18 per cent, Brahmins and Thakurs make up five per cent each, Muslims are 17 per cent, while the remaining constitute three per cent of the population.

“Caste barrier has broken down in this election. Reports from western UP suggest that Jats (Backwards) and Jatava (dalits) have voted together. Upper caste is back with BJP. So, the writing is clearly on the wall,”  a bureaucrat said.

Thus, Uttar Pradesh is bound to confront many questions post-Lok Sabha elections. If BJP wins enough seats from UP and reaches the striking distance will the regional parties support NDA and what impact this new political dispensation will have on the state Government. There looms a larger reality that the final outcome could lead to a political churning with major national ramifications.

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