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Infighting among secular parties keeps BJP hopes afloat
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Prediction about the outcome of the forthcoming UP assembly elections slated to be held from 14 to 22 February is getting harder and harder. With numerous secular parties getting pitted against each other, there is an air of uncertainty in the euphemism being displayed by the four main political parties in the state. 

There has been a mushrooming of all sorts of political parties in the state over the last few years. Now there are several other smaller parties that can influence the outcome of the results besides, the SP, the BSP, Congress and the BJP. These parties that include Rashtriya Karanti Party, Lok Dal of Ajit Singh, Apna Dal and National Loktantrik Party are increasingly finding their names as important players in the political arena in the state. Though there is a mystery as to how many seats these parties would be able to win, they have every chance to mar the chances of other parties in the state.

Kalyan Singh, the former chief minister of UP who was ousted unceremoniously by his party bosses, has thrown a gauntlet at the BJP and is fielding candidates from all 403 seats in the state. It is notwithstanding the fact that his party has no major base in more than forty seats in the state. His party functionaries are openly claiming that they are not in the business to win much seats, but want to destroy any prospects of the BJP coming back to power. 

He is not the only headache for the BJP. Ashok Yadav an influential Dalit leader of the BJP who was removed from his cabinet post just a few months ago, has also fielded candidates for around fifty seats in the state and is sure to take away a large chunk of the BJP's backward votes from it. He too is not going to get much, but is sure to destroy the chances of the BJP.

The condition of the secular parties is even worse. In a number of seats there is a triangular or quadrangular fight among the secular parties. Congress, the SP and the BSP are fighting for dominance over the secular votes in the state. They are also confronted with other rivals who are increasingly flexing their muscles to get their pound of the flesh. 

Though there was a talk of a tacit understanding between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, all talks of any agreement have already died down, with Congress and the SP putting strong candidates against each other and spewing venom against each other.

Apna Dal, a party launched a few years ago by Sone Lal is also increasingly worrying the larger parties. It has consciously created its own vote base among Kurmis and Muslims. It had amazed other parties in the civic elections held in the year 2000 by winning a large number of seats in corporations and municipal boards in the state. It has a strong base in Doaba area of Allahabad and Kanpur and is increasingly improving its vote base. National Loktantrik Party is also sure to get considerable votes in largely Muslim populated areas. 

All these parties and their lack of any understanding with each other are increasingly worrying the secular voters in the state. They are increasingly finding it difficult to decide as to which party to vote.

Muslims have more to worry than others. For them it will be an escape from the increasingly harrowing and communal misrule of the BJP.

Though there is some talk of selective voting of the candidates of different secular parties, it is not looking very bright too. Voters usually get divided on party basis long before elections and change of heart at the last minute seems to be an idea stretched too far. Meanwhile Muslim candidates too are marring the chances of other Muslim candidates by fighting the elections as candidates of different parties.

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