Uttar Pradesh is on a yatra mode. The journey to the Assembly elections has begun, though it is not clear who will finally reach the destination.
All parties, with the exception of the Bahujan Samaj Party, are taking out yatras, criss-crossing the state and trying to connect directly with the voters. The Congress has taken an early lead when it comes to yatras. The party is simultaneously taking out three yatras — one led by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, another led by UPCC president Raj Babbar and the third one led by the party’s chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit. The yatras are currently in their second phase and have almost entirely covered the whole of eastern UP, Bundelkhand and parts of central Uttar Pradesh.
“In the first phase, Rahul Gandhi’s Deoria to Delhi Kisan Yatra has covered 2,230 km and he has addressed 17 khat sabhas, 12 major shows and over 500 rallies. We hope to cover the entire state by the end of this month and then we will take a break to finalise candidates and the rest of the campaign. We will be fully prepared for the polls by the end of November,” said a UPCC leader. Party sources said that road shows are also being planned from 19 November, the birth anniversary of the late Indira Gandhi, and reports suggest that Priyanka Vadra could lead some road shows.
The Bharatiya Janata Party will launch four Parivartan Yatras from the first week of October when the auspicious Navratri period begins. These yatras will begin from four corners of the state and will be led by different leaders at different places.
“Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani, Mahesh Sharma, Mahendra Pandey, Kalraj Misra and other top party leaders will address rallies during the yatra which will display the collective leadership of the party,” said a party functionary.
The BJP is apparently wary of naming a chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh since it feels that this would fuel factional wars within the party.
The Samajwadi Party is also set to embark on a Vikas se Vijay Tak yatra led by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who plans to connect to the young voters once again and create awareness about the development work that he has done in his regime in the state.
The yatra was scheduled to begin on 3 October, but has been postponed due to the ongoing strife within the party. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s scheduled rally in Azamgarh has also been called off.
“The party high command wants to resolve differences within the party so that the split does not percolate down to the grassroots , which could have an adverse impact on the election campaign including the yatra and the rallies,” said an SP minister.
The BSP, however, will not be taking out any yatras since its president Mayawati suffers from a security phobia and does not wish to get “close” to her voters.
Mayawati has already held grand rallies in Agra, Azamgarh, Allahabad and Saharanpur and may address six more such rallies in the coming months. Two Brahmin leaders in the party, Satish Chandra Mishra and Ramvir Upadhyaya, have been assigned the task of holding rallies in Brahmin dominated constituencies to woo Brahmin voters.