New Delhi: With less than a year to go for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, all the major parties in the state have kicked off their campaigns, barring the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP).
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited the state on 13 occasions in the past 14 months, Congress president Sonia Gandhi kicked off her poll campaign with a roadshow in Varanasi on Tuesday. The Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) chief Mayawati will be holding two rallies in Agra and Azamgarh next month.
Meanwhile, the SP hasn’t announced any major rally by its leaders.
A step ahead of the others, the Congress party has even announced the name of Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate and appointed Raj Babbar as the new state party president.
On his part, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah has been meeting booth committee members across the state.
“The party is waiting for the Election Commission to announce a date for the elections. We will plan our campaign accordingly. Till now no date has been decided for launching a campaign,” said Pankhuri Pathak, SP’s spokesperson.
The party has already released its first list of 142 candidates for the election in March. In July, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav formed a team of 36 MLCs to carry out a survey across the 403 constituencies in the state and submit a report on the potential of SP candidates in these seats.
A senior SP leader said that the report has been submitted to Ram Gopal Yadav, the party’s national general secretary, and further action is awaited.
The UP government has also launched a programme called “UP Ki Nayi Chalang (UP’s new leap)”, wherein people who have benefited from schemes such as the Samajwadi Pension Yojana, the laptop distribution scheme, direct benefit transfer for farmers and Lohiya Awas Yojana have been invited to become brand ambassadors of the state government.
In addition to this outreach programme, the party has taken to social media where it is showcasing development in the state ahead of next year’s election. That said, on-ground campaign has not been planned yet.
In the 2012 assembly election, SP won 224 of the 403 assembly seats, while BSP bagged 80 seats. The latter is now looking to make a comeback next year, riding on the mounting anti-incumbency sentiment in the state, especially the discontent over the law and order situation.
During the party’s parliamentary board meeting on 25 June, Mulayam announced that chief minister Akhilesh Yadav will soon launch the party’s poll campaign by taking out a Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra. The rally, which will highlight the development initiatives of the SP government, is still to take off.