BJP senses a turnaround in Uttar Pradesh
New Delhi: A string of corruption charges against the Congress party-led federal government and its inability to rein in rising prices have seen the rival Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) stock rising in Uttar Pradesh.
The state is due to elect its new legislative assembly in August next year, though there are indications that the Election Commission could use its powers to advance the elections and hold it in March to avoid inconvenience caused by the typically hot and rainy weather in August.
An internal survey conducted by the BJP suggests the party is poised to win about 202 seats in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly.
"It's good news and we have to start working in the right earnest to further consolidate these gains," said a central office-bearer of the BJP.
The BJP had ruled Uttar Pradesh until 2002 when it lost power. It set off a decline with the party slipping to the fourth position behind the Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2009 general elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The party won 51 seats in the 2007 state elections putting it behind the Bahujan Samaj Party (207 seats) and Samajwadi Party (97 seats).
The BJP apparently is benefiting from Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption since both the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party's track record in matters involving corruption is not too great. Besides, both parties may have to pay the price for supporting the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government from outside.
Another factor going in the BJP's favour is the return to the fold of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti in June this year after the party revoked her expulsion.
Bharti is expected to be projected as the BJP's chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh. Her stature as a firebrand pro-right leader belonging to the other backward class has helped the party galvanise and expand its traditional vote bank.
The survey also suggests that despite all efforts made by the Congress general-secretary Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party's stock is going down in Uttar Pradesh due to the corruption charges that have increasingly shaken the federal government. The Congress party is projected to win just eight seats as against 22 it won in the 2007 assembly elections.
The state's ruling Bahujan Samaj Party is shown taking 90 seats while its arch-rival, the Samajwadi Party which ruled the state from 2002 to 2007, could end up finishing third with 80 seats.